Social Media Parenting: Guiding Your Children on the Internet
The list of online games and social networking sites seems to propagate longer every day. Also on the upswing: the alarming headlines about cyber bullying, stalking, and other forms of online harassment.
And while it is true that the internet opens a world of opportunity for children, intensifying their prospects and exposing them to diverse cultures and ways of life, they can be exposed and unprotected to dangers as they hit the road discovering the information road. There are folks who attempt to sexually exploit children through the use of online services and the Internet. Some of these individuals progressively seduce their targets through the use of attention, affection, kindness, and even gifts. These individuals are often willing to dedicate considerable amounts of time, money, and energy in this process. They listen to and sympathize with the problems of children. They will be aware of the updates in music, hobbies, and interests of children. These individuals attempt to increasingly lower children’s inhibitions by slowly introducing sexual context and content into their chats.
So how does it go wrong? Teens are vulnerable to peer pressure and are also unsurprisingly impulsive, so they may swiftly comment on an inappropriate post without careful thought. This can easily escalate and become very hurtful to the person who’s targeted. Some families have also become so excessively digitized that time together at home and during meals is being displaced. Direct interaction with peers is diminishing as well.
While the news media tends to focus on the negatives of this new technology, social networking also has many advantages for kids. In addition to establishing connections with friends and family, social networking urges participation in community service activities, teamwork with classmates on group projects, the sharing of musical and artistic achievements and interaction with sports coaches and teammates; and that’s just for beginners.
The right and effective parental interaction and involvement can guarantee that won’t happen. Here’s how to help your children use social media and game sites to their advantage:
1. Have open interpersonal communication with your kids to establish trust.
If you practice healthy discussions with your kids, you won’t have to worry about discussing matters with them.
2. Educate yourself.
Engage yourself in the technology so you know how to create a profile, befriend your children, and be a part of their online lives. They may insist that you don’t embarrass them by posting on their wall for their friends to see. But that’s perfectly fine because you still get a window into their world.
3. Go public.
Keep the computer centrally located so you can check on the sites they visit and the amount of time spent there.
4. Be your children’s model.
If you’re constantly on the computer, your kid will want to be, too. Limit your time so you can help your children strike a balance with their own use.
5. Chat them from time to time.
Don’t rely solely on a net nanny program to keep you up-to-date on their activity. Instead, ask who they’re chatting lately and share some of your own social media experiences.
6. Power down.
Assert that family meals are device-free and set reasonable bedtimes. Children and adolescents don’t get enough sleep as it is, so staying up half the night online undoubtedly doesn’t help.
7. Teach your children to be kind.
Discourage cruelty, gossiping and posting anything that’s fictitious or possibly harmful or embarrassing. Prompt your child that there’s no real privacy online—every email or text message leaves a digital footprint, which future employers and colleges might access.