Social media apps may have changed the communication methods among our kids, but our sons and daughters still face traditional childhood dilemmas. These pitfalls often include bullying, sexual exploitation, and cliques. In a strange twist of fate, the devices our children love have become a new outlet for these debilitating behaviors. If you are in doubt, simply read all the headlines regarding sexting mishaps, cyberbullying, and suicides impacting our youngest family members.
As our kids increasingly turn to social apps for a majority of their peer interactions and take to hiding their online activity from us, it is essential that we stay involved. Listed below are 3 suggestions to help moderate our children’s use on these apps:
Monitor a child’s Internet presence.
This can be as simple as following or friending our children on social media or it can involve downloading software allowing access to emails, social media, deleted messages, and more. Choose what works the best for your child, family, and circumstances. Stress that anything they post on social media will be seen by others, including us.
Begin an ongoing conversation about digital interactions.
Start when a child is young and slowly build on that foundation as they age to include sexting, cyberbullying, digital reputation, and more. Children need to understand how their actions online can hurt others and even their own future. A good rule of thumb is to only post items that Grandma would find acceptable. Revisit these subjects every now and then to keep the talk going.
Instill strong social media skills.
Living in the digital age makes this step crucial so our kids can succeed. Teach them about oversharing, ways for adjusting privacy settings, and understanding the dangers of talking to strangers. Look for practical ways they can protect themselves online that includes: ignoring bullying comments, avoiding sexting, bypassing gossip, oversharing schedules, forwarding addresses, and thinking twice before posting negative photos on their social media accounts.