Family Life




Social Media and Your Child – The Do’s and Don’t’s

What websites at what age

Social Media and Your Child – The Do’s and Don’t’s

Online social networking sites began with college students. They have become immensely popular with adults of all ages. Now, children are also present in large numbers on social media. Children are lying about their age online in order to create Instagram, X, and TikTok accounts, with or without their parents' permission.

Social networking sites that are towards younger children also exist. These events should come as no surprise to savvy twenty-first century parents, who know that their children are among the most digitally connected people in the world. Online social networking for the young is simply a logical extension of services like texting and social media for adults.

Still, it can be difficult to know exactly what kind of connectivity is appropriate for your children and how to protect them from the numerous online threats that seem massed against them .

Is Online Social Networking Bad?

There is much debate around whether social media is healthy for children. Many children use social media as a way to stay connected with those that they know in real life, but social media can also leave them vulnerable to bad influences and cyberbullying.

In many cases, children are using online social networking tools as they would any other social tool available to them- the phone, for instance. Parents who worry about online interaction superseding personal interactions in the physical world are largely mistaken in their concerns. Instead, their children are building social skills that they will need both digitally and in the real world as they get older.

Protecting Your Children Online

This does not mean, however, that parents should simply allow their children to have unsupervised or unrestricted access to the online world. It only takes a single moment of inattentive interaction for a child to become a target. Take steps to protect your child online the same way you would in the real world; pay attention and be an active part of their life.

Here are some steps you can take to keep your child safe:

  • Insist that the computer be in a public part of the house and limit their daily or weekly allotment of time there.
  • Place protective software on the machine and know how to use it.
  • Bookmark your children's favorite sites to keep them from accidentally arriving at unintended locations.
  • Help your children set up their profiles on social networking sites in order to make sure that as little personal information as possible is available online.
  • Teach your children to protect themselves as well; let them know about the fact that there are all kinds of predators on the internet and how to discourage them.
  • Know who your child is talking to online and whether they know these people in real life or not.

The key to all of these efforts to keep your child safe online is knowledge- both yours and your child's.

Set A Good Example in Real Life

This may sound like an odd topic to bring up in an article about social media, but bear with us. Your child, no matter how hard you try, will eventually run into perspectives and attitudes that are inappropriate. Whether they encounter bigotry, bullying, or something else, hate and negativity are present in every corner of the internet.

Rather than trying, and inevitably failing, to keep your child from ever experiencing negativity online, you can prepare them for it so it affects them as little as possible. Be a good role model for them, showing them the right way to act every day. Don't spread hate and negativity yourself. If you run into something bad online, handle it in a way that acknowledges its existence without giving it anything beyond that.

Make sure your child knows that they can come to you with any questions or concerns they have about something they find online. You are one of your child's best resources for information. You can make sure they have the right understanding of what they encounter and learn about. It's better to help your child learn than to get upset that they know about a given topic in the first place.

Do your best to protect your child online, but also learn to accept that you can't protect them from everything. Be a present and aware parent, and guide them when you need to. As long as you are doing your best and have your child's best interests at heart, you'll do just fine.

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