Parents as much as we may not want to accept it social media is here to stay. With new apps on the market each week and technology constantly evolving it feels like we are always one step behind our kids and this is true. The children today are the first generation to come through their life without knowing a world without social media.
When we were kids we aimed for the pen licence or being able to go out without adult supervision now the rite of passage is being granted the approval of setting up a social media account.
There is so much miscommunication and scare tactics out there so at PRC we try to work with families on how to manage the social media minefield the best way.
Our first point is that you can’t hide from social media forever. We see so many cases where parents have not allowed access and their child has done it behind their back or they approve the use of one platform and suddenly their child is loading up all the trending apps and they are none the wiser.
There are dangers in every social media platform. With over 750,000 predators online at any one time every child that is online is at risk BUT the risk can be eliminated depending on what steps you put in place from the beginning. There is no room to be complacent when your child has a device. Treat it like your front door that has locks installed to keep the bad guys out, treat the device exactly the same way.
Here are our key tips:
We do not recommend a specific age to start on social media as this all comes down to the maturity of the child and you are the best judge of that. We find what is usually the norm is that they can access social media at the commencement of their high school education
Before you give your child a device, any apparatus that can connect to the internet sit down with them and sign an agreement (we have created a sample one attached) and touch base with your kids at the end of each school term
Explain to your children about what your concerns are on social media – cyber bullying, pornography, sexting and predators
Ensure that you are with them when they upload any new app and check the security settings, in particular ensure that location settings for the app are turned off
Keep an eye on what they are doing online and be aware of any secretive behaviour or changes that may not feel right
If your child is approached online don’t delete it – report it
Above all else keep the dialogue with your child open and continue to talk about social media with them. If they come across anything sinister online you want to know that they will feel confident confiding in you.
Parents the world our children are growing up in is nothing like the one we did. We played in the streets until dark and sure we were always told about stranger danger and never accept lollies from a man in a dodgy white van but as kids we felt secure that when we went home at night and our parents locked the front door we were safe. Our kids now have devices that lets the bad guys in to your home even if you are sitting in the same room as them.
So don’t be scared of the world wide web, it is a part of all our lives but as parents we cannot keep our heads in the sand any longer. If we communicate and cooperate with our kids we can show them the best of social media whilst protecting them from the worst of it.
If you have any concerns or questions never hesitate to reach out to us for advice, we are here to help 24/7