The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released findings from a comprehensive study on the impact social media has on kids and families. Although there are real benefits to kids using sites like Facebook, including increased communication, access to information and help in developing a sense of self, there can be serious downsides to all this online sharing too.
Social networking is on the rise, and the study found that 22 percent of teenagers log onto their favorite social media sites more than 10 times a day, and that 75 percent own cell phones. This level of engagement online increases the risks of cyberbullying, “Facebook depression” (a new phenomenon where “de-friending” and online bullying lead to symptoms of depression), exposure to inappropriate content, and sexting.
Just as we prepare our kids for life in the real world, we should prepare them for life in the online world. Read on for tips that every parent should keep in mind.
To safely encourage an internet-savy child check out these Kid-Friendly Social Networking Sites
No Underage Facebooking
Did you know that no one under the age of 13 is permitted to join Facebook? However, there is no real way for Facebook to truly enforce it, because anyone can lie about their year of birth. You need to make sure that your child stays away from Facebook until 13 AND until you are comfortable with him or her having an account. There are measures put in place, such as reporting an underage child, but ultimately, it should be the parent who has the say on when and if that account gets created.
Use Filtering Software
There are software suites you can purchase to monitor your child’s Internet usage; many even enable you to view the exact keys that were typed, time spent online and all computer activity in general. Popular programs such as Net Nanny and PureSight PC let you monitor social media sites, block chats, filter content and much more. You can even monitor your child’s cell phone with a software program like My Mobile Watchdog.
Create Ground Rules
If your kids are old enough to be using the computer on their own, they are old enough to understand that there are rules they need to abide by. Breaking them should not have a lesser consequence than if they broke a rule in the offline world. The best way for families to agree on ground rules is to create a contract that all parties must sign. The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) encourages parents and kids to have an open discussion about what these rules mean, and offers a good example of a contract here.
You don’t need to be a super sleuth and spy on your kid’s every online move, but it is important to be aware of the kinds of sites he is frequenting and the people he is associating with. You get to know the friends he’s hanging out with at school, and his online friends shouldn’t be any different. One of the contract rules should be that you have full access to his Facebook friends and can take a look whenever you wish.
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Source & For Further Tips: https://www.parenting.com/gallery/social-media-monitoring-kids