In commemoration of World Children’s Day, we have decided to share some important tips and information on how to protect your children on social media.
Did you know that according to CNN, the average child starts using social media at 12.6 years old. Although the legal ages for social media use is usually 13, this number is actually not set up to protect children, but rather because companies are not allowed to actively mine data on individuals younger than 13 years old.
Social media can certainly be a place which helps us to connect and reconnect with family and friends, learn how to do new things, and even catch up on the latest news and trends. Social media can unfortunately also be a very dangerous place for younger individuals who don’t completely understand the risks involved in social media use. We believe that as a parent, it is crucial for you to take the steps necessary to protect your children and educate them as much as possible about the vast digital world they are stepping into.
Without further ado, here some of Farosian’s top tips to protect your children on social media:
The first step required in order to protect your children, is for you to understand the digital landscape yourself. This means learning about the full in’s and out’s of social media. We recommend learning about privacy settings and how to use them effectively, how to create and keep strong passwords safe, what to post and what not to post to avoid putting your identity at risk, and finally how to behave and treat others on these platforms to avoid bringing your future self into a sticky situation.
This is possibly the most important step in the process, because without it, the rest of your efforts become futile. One needs to cultivate an open, honest and clear channel of communication between you and your child. This will create room for discussions about the rest of the issues, as well as provide a safe space for your child to reach out to you for assistance or advice when they need it.
We recommend “friending” and “following” your children on social media. This provides a realistic insight into their social media behaviour. Make sure that you don’t overstep and cause embarrassment for your child by commenting on all their posts as this will most likely result in a backfire whereby they block you from viewing their profiles.
Ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the different privacy settings on the different platforms. This is essential as it allows you to prevent their profiles showing publicly. Make sure to check these settings as often as possible to ensure that they are up-to-date and remain unchanged. We recommend showing your children how they work and having a serious discussion about the importance of this.
If you’re “friends” or “following” your children on social media, you need to remember that they will instinctively look to you for guidance on how to conduct yourself online. Make sure that you refrain from oversharing, and remember to make use of proper social media etiquette.
“What Would Grandma Say?”. It is always a good idea to think twice before posting or sharing something. A good way to do this is to follow the “WWGS” rule, where you ask yourself if Grandma would approve of what you’re sharing or posting. Chances are, if she wouldn’t approve, you probably shouldn’t be sharing it!
Each social media platform has set age restrictions, be sure to abide by these as they are in place for a reason. The real reason is in fact not to protect children from using social media too young, but rather because these tech giants are actually legally only allowed to actively mine data on individuals older than a certain age. Regardless, we believe that children should only begin using social media at an age where they can take conscious responsibility for their actions.
Set up fair and clear boundaries with your children. They will need to make use of these platforms at some point in their lives, so rather you guide them and make sure they do so in a safe manner than have it done behind your back. Create usage rules with your children – examples include not using cellphones during mealtimes, or not using screens for the hour before bed.
Finally, remember that too much screen time can be bad for anyone, and it is important to manage how you’re using social media. We also advise reminding your children not to give out personal information such as their name, age, school, home address, or other personal information, especially not to someone that they don’t know.
Our final point, and one which we always remind people about, is to remember to have fun! Social media is an incredible tool which, if used correctly, can provide connections to friends on the opposite side of the world, tutorials to do anything imaginable, and even advice on how to start up a business. The possibilities are endless.
Farosian offers a comprehensive Social & Digital Media Literacy Course which covers everything mentioned above and so much more. Get in touch if you have any questions, and we would be happy to help. Stay safe, have fun, and follow us for more tips and news on social and digital media.