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Challenge: Walking the Talk

Preparing Children to Be Smart About Social Media

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Most kids use some form of social media and have an account on a social networking website. Many use these websites every day.

There is a lot of useful information about social media — but also many dangers and things kids should avoid. They don't usually make good decisions when they post something to a website, and this can point to difficulties.

So it's necessary to talk with your children about how to use social media carefully.


Social media can support kids:

  • engage and interact with others who share related hobbies
  • interact with educators and fellow students
  • stay joined with friends and family
  • missionary or get connected with a campaign, charitable, or donation
  • improve their creativity by distributing ideas, music, and art


The social media can be a center for something like cyberbullying and questionable actions. Without intending to, kids can distribute more online than they should.

Most kids:

  • share their birthdates and interests
  • share their school name and the city where they are
  • post photos of themselves online or use their names on their profiles

This can make them easy marks for online predators and others who might mean them abuse.

Many kids say they have:

  • experienced online advertising that was inappropriate for their age
  • lied about their age to get entrance to sites
  • been communicated online by someone they didn't know in a way that made them feel afraid or upset

Concerns and Values

Besides difficulties like cyberbullying and online predators, children also can face the potentiality of physical contact with the wrong person. Many more modern apps automatically show the poster's location when they're applied. This can tell anyone correctly where to find the person handling the app.

And videos, photos, and comments made online usually can't be taken back once they're shared. Even when a kids thinks something has been removed, it can be difficult to erase it from the Internet simply.

Sharing an inappropriate photo can ruin a reputation and cause problems years next — such as when a possible employer or college admissions officer does a history check. And posting a mean-spirited text, even as a fun, can be very dangerous to someone else and even taken as a threat.

Wasting too much time on social media can be a downer too. Recognizing how many "friends" others have and the photos of them having fun can make children feel bad about themselves or like they don't measure up to their peers.

What Can Parents Do?

It's essential to be aware of what your children do online. But snooping can separate them and destroy the trust you've built collectively. The solution is to stay connected in a way that makes your kids realize that you respect their privacy but need to make sure they're protected.

Inform your kids that it's essential to:

  • Think doubly before tapping "enter." Remind children that what they post can be used upon them. For instance, letting the world understand that you're off on vacation or posting your home location gives would-be criminals a chance to strike. Kids also should avoid posting special locations of parties or events, as well as telephone numbers.
  • Be careful. Mean performance is not OK. Make it clear that you require your children to treat others with respect, and never to post hurtful or embarrassing information. And ask them always to tell you about any harassing or bullying information that others post.
  • Follow the "What Would Grandma Say?" rule. Instruct children not to share anything on social media that they wouldn't want their instructors, college admissions officers, future managers — and yes, grandma — to view.
  • Don't "friend" strangers. "If you don't identify them, don't friend them." This is a plain, easy — and safe — rule of thumb.
  • Use privacy settings. Privacy settings are necessary. Go through them collectively to make sure your kids know each one. Also, demonstrate that keys are there to protect them against things like identification theft. They should never give them with anyone, even a boyfriend, girlfriend, or best buddy.
  • Buying Instagram followers. The ability to buy Instagram followers UK speeds up the process of building your kid's reputation online. Funding for a following definitely shortens the time it takes for a profile to get noticed.

Make a Deal

Think to make a "social media deal" with your kids — a real deal they can sign. In it, they allow to preserve their own privacy, think about their reputation, and not give out private information. They also agree not to practice technology to hurt anyone else through bullying or gossip.

In turn, parents allow respecting teens' privacy while producing an effort to be part of the social media experience. This means you can "friend" and recognize them, but don't post disturbing comments or rants about dirty rooms.

Parents also can help keep kids restricted in the real world by putting limits on media control. Keep laptops in public spaces in the house, avoid laptops and smartphones in bedrooms, and set some controls on the use of technology.

And don't ignore: Setting a good example through your virtual presence can go a long way toward supporting your kids use social media carefully.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.