Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have exploded in popularity during the past decade among all age groups. Although the growth doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon, the following might come as a surprise: Children are joining their first social media site at increasingly young ages.
According to a recent study from Knowthenet, an online information hub and practical advice resource based in the UK, 59 percent of children have joined an online social network before age 10.
It’s important for parents to be aware of how their children are interacting with social media, but exactly how closely should parents monitor social media sites that their children visit?
Here are some tips for handling this delicate issue:
An extreme approach can lead to problems.
Some parents choose not to monitor their children’s social media presence at all, but this is probably not the best course of action. There are legitimate dangers on the Internet, such as credit scams, identity theft, computer viruses and other pitfalls. In addition, children and teenagers could jeopardize future college and employment possibilities through what they post online. Therefore, it’s important to be mindful of what your child is involved with online.
On the other hand, some parents will use apps or programs to monitor every single thing their child or teen is doing online. While this can certainly help protect the child from online threats, it will likely be harmful in other ways. For instance it may damage the parent-child relationship or lead to the child creating secret profiles.
There are no standard rules.
There is still no definitive answer on how closely parents should monitor social media sites. Due to that, it’s important for parents to make decisions on a case-to-case basis.
Even though there aren’t any set rules that will work in all cases, you should still feel comfortable establishing some rules for online activity. Maybe you think that some monitoring applications will be helpful. Maybe you feel that the computer should be placed in a common area or that your child can only create a profile once they have reached the required minimum age of the particular social network. However you choose to monitor your child’s social media use, just be sure that both you and your child are on the same page.
Be sure to discuss with your child.
No matter how many monitoring devices or tracking systems you have in place, you probably won’t be able to catch everything. It’s important to regularly have an honest and open conversation with your child about the dangers and benefits of social media. Before doing so, educate yourself about how a new platform or technology works and what it is capable of, especially if you don’t personally use it. This way you’ll be able to speak and offer advice with a strong understanding of what is happening in the online world.