Everyone has social media these days, even kids – they love to share photos and videos, chat with their friends, and look up things that interest them, just like we do. There is nothing wrong with using social networks to connect with people and grow friendships, but the trust is that there are certain risks in the online world that you need to protect your child from. One study found that around 68% of children accept friend requests from strangers sometimes – this isn’t a completely safe thing to do even if you are an adult, let alone a child. Since it’s not the best idea to stop a child from ever getting a social media profile, the best thing a parent can do is teach their child about the importance of safety on the internet.
Their accounts should be private
With social networks such as Facebook or Instagram, anyone can see your posts and pictures if your account isn’t private. This maybe isn’t a big deal to adults, but you definitely don’t want strangers to be able to see pictures of your child, or the post they share. That’s why all of your child’s social media accounts should be set to private. That way, people have to send a friend request or a follow request before they can see anything. Also, remind your child to check privacy settings regularly, since they tend to change often. You don’t want their posts to become open to the public suddenly just because there was a privacy update.
Posting with caution
Another thing that you need to teach your child is that they should be careful about what they post online. They shouldn’t share any private information or inappropriate content, even if it seems fun at that moment. Our posts remain on the internet forever, even if you delete them at some point – you never know who downloaded your picture or screenshotted a post. Not to mention that some schools and businesses check their applicants’ social media profiles to find out more about them, so they shouldn’t post anything they don’t want their future professor or boss to see.
The main rule when it comes to accepting friend or follow requests is to accept only people you know. Explain to your child that accepting strangers comes with many dangers and that some of those strangers might try to misuse their access to your account. This means that they shouldn’t accept any adults they don’t know, as well as other children they don’t know. Some online imposters make fake profiles pretending to be children, so just because someone has a profile picture of a child, doesn’t necessarily mean they are who they say they are.
Bullying is a serious issue among kids and teenagers and it is rapidly transferring from the real to the online world. Bullying is easier online where you can hide behind your profile and say whatever you want without any consequences. This is why you need to teach your child to behave properly on the internet and that words hurt just the same whether you say them in person, or write them down. If your child is on the other side of bullying, try to explain to them that it is always better to talk to you or another adult about it than to deal with something like that on their own.