From time immemorial kids have always thought they were smarter and more world wise than their parents. This hasn’t changed! With their phones, the internet, and social media, kids and teens have every topic at their fingertips. What they don’t know–is what they don’t know. Enter parents and how to keep your kids and teens safe on social media.
Reinforce Their Positive Uses of Social Media
Be sure you communicate that you think being online in certain apps is not only fine, but beneficial. Let them know you like that they are communicating with relatives and friends who live out of town. Family interaction is important. Encourage them to use internet tools to complete school work and research useful topics. Learning skills can be reinforced by using the web, and future job opportunities can develop from their familiarity with the internet. Always show them what you are doing: job searching, keeping in touch with relatives and friends, researching a topic for work, writing skills development, learning how to do more with excel spreadsheets. Hint: parents are still learning too.
Just like you have taught them not to talk to strangers on the street, or be tempted to go into a strange car, the same goes for the internet.
Some easy to remember tips for kids and teens alike:
- If you don’t know them, don’t engage.
- Don’t become “friends” with a stranger who contacts you. See above tip.
- Every single thing you post on social media never goes away. You can delete and delete, but someone smart can always find it.
- Just like there are people with evil intent on the street, there are thousands more on the net.
- Never send pictures to strangers.
- Never post anything you wouldn’t want your parents to see.
- Explain the importance of privacy settings.
- Never agree to meet someone you have only met online.
We Are All In It Together
Tweens and teens may think they are smart enough to avoid issues while online. Without spitting out rules, give them some inside information that everyone should use when online.
- Ask them if they know what phishing emails are.
- See if they know about links that ask for information.
- Ask them about scams. Would they recognize one and give some examples?
- Remind them that an internet address must have https:// and not http:// which is not secure.
- Admit that even you and all adults can be victims of scammers, phishing, cyber-bullying, and predators. Even adults must continue to be on alert and learn new information about being online.
- Most importantly, have them come to you and report anything or anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable.
Sharing knowledge is always positive and less confrontational. Being the internet advisor is better than being the internet ruler.
Contact PediatriCare of Northern Virginia at (703) 330-3939 if you fear your child’s disposition, daily habits, or grades have changed due to online interactions.