Social media has become a daily part of all of our lives. We are constantly checking our phones and computers to see what are friends are up to. We post pictures of our meals, our accomplishments, make vague statements that feed our need for attention or create a buzz with our political statements.
Our online presence has become an integral part of our identity. For kids and teenagers who are beginning to form their identity, the importance of creating a safe and reputable online presence is vital. For caregivers, guardians, and parents who are looking to protect their kids in this new online world, here are a few tips to keep your kids safe online.
EDUCATE! Remind your kids about the importance of privacy. What is appropriate information to share and what should they keep private? Encourage them to build a positive presence online – boast about that soccer goal, or that ice cream you had after. Teach them about bullying, harassment, and remind them about the permanency of the internet. What goes up…stays up…forever! This can affect kids’ reputations and have long-term effects on their future in both positive and negative ways. Remember young kids and teenagers brains aren’t fully developed. They are not always able to think about consequences for their actions so make sure you remind them!
SUPERVISE! Know what your kids are doing online and make this a priority and expectation. Have them teach you the latest social media trends and sites. Be their friends on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, be their Snap Chat buddy – whatever you do, get involved! Sit down with them and Google each other’s names. You should know what information they are putting out there about themselves. Know who your child is talking to and make sure they know who they are talking to. Always have the password to their phones and make sure to do random checks as often as you feel necessary. You are the expert on your child. You know what they are capable of and what they can handle at this developmental stage of their life.
WITH MORE POWER COMES MORE RESPONSIBILITY! Now that you have educated your child about safety and privacy, and have set those clear expectations, it is time to follow through. If you find content that it is inappropriate, unsafe, or concerning sit down and talk to your kids. Try and understand what it is they are doing and getting out of what they are doing. Continue to monitor, and if things do not change it’s time to set restrictions. Remember it is your job as a parent to keep your kids safe. If they can’t yet manage the freedom of the internet then start setting restrictions. If you find that your kiddo is participating in high-risk or dangerous online activity, it is time to take action. Seek support from counselors as soon as possible.
DO AS I SAY AND AS I DO! Set a good example for your kids with your own internet and phone usage and privacy. No phone at the dinner table? That means you, too, mom! Don’t post inappropriate or controversial items. Lead by example. Model a healthy balance of phone and internet use. When you are spending time with your kids try to be as present as possible. Your kids are always watching and learning from you. The best way to make sure you stay connected to your kids and know what they are doing is to have a good relationship with them. Always keep the door open for conversation and help them to feel supported by you.
If you have questions or concerns about your kids internet use, give us a call today to get supported.
By Kelly DiBenedetto, LMHC, ATR
Boston Post Adoption Resources