Kids and Social Media

Many young people turn to social networking sites to keep in touch with friends. In fact, over 60 percent of kids aged 13 through 17 have at least one profile active online, and many of them spend more than two hours every day on those sites. It can be a great way to connect, but there are also dangers associated with spending too much time on social media. Here is how to make sure kids and social media can get along in harmony.

How Does Social Media Influence Kids?

When it comes to social media, it’s not all bad. Kids definitely benefit from the ability to stay so connected to their friends. They also meet new friends that they might not have made without the social media platforms. Finally, social media offers a great way for kids to express themselves through their writings, music sharing, artwork, and even their political leanings. They can also gather new information about things in the world that interest them, and talk with others about what they find.

However, there are risks when kids and social media collide. Some of these are pretty extreme, including predatory adults who might want to talk the kids into doing something bad, immoral or even illegal, the risk of identity theft, and exposure to sexual situations and discussion that they are not yet ready to handle. Other risks include cyber bullying, sharing photos that they might later regret, being exposed to a huge avalanche of advertising that is designed to change the way they view consumerism, and the health risks that come along with being sedentary in front of the computer instead of being outside or doing other physical things.

How to Guide Kids in Using Social Media

The risks mentioned above are exactly why your kids need you to be vigilant when it comes to social media. The following tips are designed to help parents deal with the issues of kids and social media in a way that keeps those kids safe and happy.

1. Be Aware of the Minimum Ages for Social Media

Remember that just because everyone else is using social media doesn’t mean it is right for your child. This is especially true if your child is under the age of 13. Most social media sites allow users who are 13 years of age and up. Of course there are ways that kids get around this, but as a parent it is your responsibility to make sure your kids don’t go onto social media sites too soon.

2. Set Rules

Everything in life has rules, including social media use. Make sure to set ground rules for your kids and see that they adhere to them. If they break the rules on social media, have clear consequences waiting for them. To make sure that things are going smoothly, write up a contract with your child, spelling out the rules and punishments.

3. Teach Kids about Digital Footprints

Make it clear to your kids that what they put on social media really does last forever. It is important that they learn this nowso that they can make good choices about what they share. Impress upon your kids that what they share now might affect their future relationships, job applications and more.

4. Warn Kids Against Internet Fraud

Kids often think that the world is a much safer place than it really is. Talk to them about the pitfalls they might face online, including sweepstakes that are not real, surveys that use sneaky ways to get their identity information, and even people who are not who they say they are.

5. Monitor Photo Sharing

Kids are probably going to post pictures of themselves online, even if you don’t think it is a good idea. Avoid problems by checking the pictures, making sure there are no identifying points, such as the front of your house or your street number. And make sure those photographs are suitable for kids!

6. Check Kids’ Accounts

Check on your kids and social media accounts. You can do this by having the password and going into them every now and then, or just cruising through their accounts online every now and then. Remember that sometimes kids try to set up accounts that their parents don’t know about – if you see a sudden lack of activity on the accounts but you know that they are still using the computer for the same period of time, check for other accounts by setting up a Google alert or installing a keylogger.

7. Avoid Placing the Computer in Kids’ Rooms

When your kids have free reign on the computer, there is no way to monitor them. Keep the computer in a central location where you can walk through anytime, and that will often be enough to deter them from doing the more nefarious things on the internet.

8. Prevent Overuse

Social media can take over a kid’s life if you allow it. If your child begins to worry about social media accounts, such as stressing over how many friends they have there, it’s time to put limits on their usage. You can also put a limit on when they are allowed to use social media.For instance, no use of the internet when they are in class, with family at the dinner table or otherwise engaging with people in real time.

9. Become a Role Model

Your kids always look to you for guidance, even when they become teenagers. So if you are constantly checking social media, they will think that’s okay to do. Be a good role model by keeping limits on your own social media use.

This video can tell you more about how to monitor kids in using social media:

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