By: Krystle Crossman
So many of us use some kind of social media every day but do you stop and think about your kids using some of these sites, such as Facebook and Twitter? While it’s a great way for them to get social interaction with other kids if they can’t get out and see them face to face or to keep in touch with family that they don’t often get to see, there are a lot of dangerous people out on social media. As a parent it is your responsibility to monitor your child’s online interactions and make sure that they are not falling for schemes or scams and are being safe.
The three biggest social media sites take action against children too young using their sites. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all have an age limit where anyone who is under 13 cannot join the sites. However this is easy to get around as you can enter the wrong birth-date and make it seem like you are older. Parents need to stay vigilant and make sure their children are not doing this. If you buy a cell phone for your child before they are 13 tell them that they are not going to be allowed to have any of these social media apps until they are old enough.
Once your child is old enough for a social media account, sit down with them and make the profiles together. Make sure the best privacy restrictions are put into place. Make sure that they know the things they should not be posting such as their home address and phone number. Also make sure to tell them that inappropriate photos are not allowed and they should never accept a friend request from someone they have never met in person.
When the profile is set up, write a contract with your child that lays out the rules. If they disobey those rules, set consequences such as having the cell phone taken away or deleting the profile until they can be more mature about it. When they are younger, set up their password and make sure that you always have it. When they are older, “friend” them so that you can see what is going on and can monitor. If you notice that activity on the page dwindles they may have set up an alternate account. You can set a Google alert so that you know any time your child’s name comes up on the internet.
Limit the amount of usage that your child has so that they do not become completely wrapped up in social media and let it run their lives. There is an appropriate time and place for being on social media so set the rules for when they are not allowed to be on.