Few things have made parent’s jobs harder than the advent of the social media era; in the 21st century, it seems like everyone is connected online, and few parents know where to start when it comes to teaching their kids about the wild world of the web. Luckily, by following expert advice and utilizing some common-sense tips, you’ll find that properly teaching your kids how to navigate social media doesn’t have to be a nightmare, and will prove very beneficial for their development into healthy adults.
Don’t start them off on the wrong foot
Far too often, parents make the same mistakes repeatedly, teaching their children poor social media habits which will come back to haunt them in the future. By not carefully monitoring your own social media activity, for instance, your children will see your own failings online, and learn from your behavior that acting out on Twitter or Facebook is acceptable. Parents should thus start by reviewing their own social media activity and knowhow before moving on to their children’s habits.
Once you’ve made sure you’re not leading by a poor example, you can tackle your children’s behavior. Social media has a distinct psychological impact on kids, often leading them to try and raise their social status by posting provocative or offensive things online. You’ll need to emphasize the importance of avoiding bullying on the web, and ingrain in your children that insensitive comments needlessly posted doesn’t only spread hate, but makes them look bad in the public eye, too.
It’s never too early to teach your kids about the importance of a reputation. Children should understand that, in today’s day and age especially, posting something online is the equivalent of saying it to someone’s face. The internet is essentially a permanent record, and mistakes they make while young will follow them as they grow older. Teaching them about the longevity of what they post is thus a must, and they should be familiar with other common-sense tips, too.
Privacy, for instance, is seldom given enough attention in today’s classrooms. In the digital age, it’s easier than ever to take photos, send videos, and spread information about one another around. A necessary result of this is that there’s a lot of information about you and your children floating around out there, from company’s tapping into your metadata for commercial usage to nefarious people online trying to take advantage of you. Teaching your kids early about how to protect their accounts and identities is imperative, and they should understand basic cybersecurity, which sounds complicated but is really just a way to keep your information safe.
Let them know who’s in charge
When it comes to instilling basic principles of internet etiquette to your kids, you can’t be afraid to let them know who’s in charge. As a parent, and as the person who likely paid for the digital devices and services the love to use, you have a right to check out your kid’s internet activity. This doesn’t give you a free pass to snoop into every aspect of their personal privacy, of course, but you’ll want to ensure that they’re not going on any dangerous or shady websites, links to which often get passed around on social media.
Don’t be afraid to examine the content your children are posting in their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, either. Though you may not have an account on these websites, you can still visit them yourself, and in serious cases can review your children’s content alongside of them to ensure nothing vile is being posted. Cyberbullying can happen to anyone, and any child can themselves become a bad actor online with poor behavior, so don’t think your kids are immune to common trends on social media that bring out the worst in people.
Perhaps above all else, to let them live an independent life on social media while still being confident in their safety and reputation, you should foster critical thinking skills in your children. The internet is a vast and wondrous resource, capable of delivering your child countless hours of joy while also educating them about how the world works. To properly make use of it, they’ll need well-developed socialization skills and an eagerness to learn, which you can help spur by fostering a learning-friendly environment at home.
Don’t let your kid’s activity on social media take you by surprise, and be don’t afraid to step in and assume control and ensure that nothing bad is going on. Understand that your children need their privacy too, however, and that you can work alongside of them to teach them how to be social media gurus. In the digital age, being active online is more important than ever. Don’t let your kids miss out – teach them right, and they can enjoy social media for the rest of their lives.