Social media is taking over. Ninety-two percent of teens go online daily, according to the Pew Research Center. Of these children, 71 percent use more than one social media site. If your child is one of the many who regularly uses social media, setting ground rules is an absolute must. What rules does your list need to include? Check out what guidelines can help your child to stay safe while online:
Social media is all about sharing. That’s the nature of this beast. That said, oversharing can put your child at risk or make her an easy target for online predators.
Social media privacy rules for children should include:
- Never give anyone you don’t know in real life your private information. This includes your last name, your school, your street address and your phone number.
- Don’t share your passwords with anyone – including friends or a boy/girlfriend.
- Avoid posting pictures of yourself wearing clothing with your school name, hometown or some other personal identifier on it.
- Turn off location services. These allow other people to see where you are when you’re using your computer or smartphone.
Your child is interacting with other kids online. That’s the point of social media. And that means your child needs to treat her friends the same way online as she does in real life.
Set social media rules that cover these friend-to-friend interactions. These rules for children could include:
- Treat other people the way you would want to be treated.
- Never bully someone else online.
- Respect other people’s boundaries. If a friend doesn’t want to share information with you, stop asking for it.
- Expect respect. If someone is using aggressive, embarrassing or mean language with you, tell an adult and “unfriend” the person.
- Don’t ignore bullying when you see it happen – even if it’s not happening to you.
- Avoid retaliating or reacting to mean, snarky or bullying online comments.
- Block bullies. This includes anyone who is acting in a mean, threatening or vicious way.
There was a time (probably when you were a child) when stranger danger was limited to people who you didn’t know offering you candy, asking you to get into an odd-looking van with no windows, or approaching you in some sort of uncomfortable way.
The new type of stranger danger lives online. Your child is meeting new “friends” every day. Maybe every hour. And she thinks they’re all so cool. What she doesn’t know is that her brand new online BFF might actually a 45-year-old predator who is pretending to be a 14-year-old cheerleader.
Stranger danger rules for social media need to start with a serious discussion. Talk to your child about online predators, and help her to understand the signs to look for. Predators are tricky and it’s a major challenge to tell the difference between an adult masquerading as a child and a real tween or teen. Even adults have trouble with this.
This is why it’s so important for your child to stick to her IRL (in real life) friends online. This is also why your child needs to understand that it’s okay for you, as the parent, to have access to her social media accounts. Your child needs to give you her passwords and allow you access to check up on her social media accounts periodically.
Along with these basic rules, you need to add your own personal ones too. These come from your family’s beliefs and values, and reflect your child as an individual. Ask your child what rules she thinks are important to include. Getting her in on the action may make her more likely to follow rules now and in the future!