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Articles by Emma Easterlin, B.A. (articles are not meant to be advice)
HOW TO ENSURE A SAFE SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE FOR YOUR CHILD
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- Learn about the different social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat). It will be easier to discuss the precautions and limitations of social media with your child if you understand how they work.
- Facebook does not allow persons under 13 to have an account. At 13 or 14, you might consider trying one social media platform and make it clear you will be monitoring their account. It is up to your discretion and comfort level at what age you allow your child to create an account. The reality of modern living is that children will be exposed to social media and they will need parents’ guidance regarding how they can maintain a healthy relationship with it.
- Discuss the dangers of being online, such as cyberbullying or sexual predators contacting children via social media. Have them agree to come to you to talk about questionable situations they encounter. Help them understand that you will keep their confidences and help them problem solve these situations, but their safety and, secondarily, their reputation, is the number one priority.
- Make the privacy settings on the sites as strict as possible. This protects the computer and the user from viruses and third parties.
- Because screen use can become a point of contention with regard to how much time is ok, what parameters for use are allowable, think these through ahead of time. For example, 30 minutes a day and the phone gets “parked” in parents’ possession at a set time each night so it is not available in the middle of the night. Time constraints for cell phone or computer time (say, 30 minutes) can be used naturally as a reward for good behavior.
- Establish that you will approve the content they want to post. Most adolescents do not possess the maturity to understand the consequences of posting suggestive selfies or using offensive language online, so tell them you will need to preview pictures or comments first. There is a fine line between privacy and supervision for purposes of safety. Make sure that you keep you priority on safety, as everyone is entitled to a modicum of privacy with regard to their communications and friendships.