As a parent, there are a lot of scary things out there that you have to deal with one day. From the first time, they stay home alone, learn to drive, bullies at school, and try to keep themselves safe from the dangers of social media. Safe social media can be an uphill battle, with something new out there constantly. Most parents of young kids did not have social media in their lives until they were older, smartphones were not a thing nor were the unknowns of the internet at their fingertips. You will not always be able to be right by your children’s sides, but you can teach them smart social media rules to live by.
The Dangers of Social Media
Unless you have been living off the grid for the past 20 years you know enough about social media to know that it is not as safe as it once was. Safe social media is easier said than done, but if you have little kids or plan on having kids there is a lot you should know about striving for safe social media. From cyberbullying to inappropriate content, in addition to the mental health aspect and addiction, safe social media is so very important now than ever before.
There are obvious dangers of social media that everyone knows and is aware of. Cyberbullying is prevalent across all social media and not just in the way that people think of bullying. The biggest cyberbullying comes from those who hide behind their computer and lash out at others. Either as a know-it-all or as one with a superiority complex who likes to be the “troll”. These people even make fake accounts and their bullying can be not only hurtful but harmful when they can influence others to feel or act a certain way.
Between influencers and almost everyone only putting their best days on social media, it is hard often keep up with what one, might think is real on social media. Safe social media also includes the mental health and well-being of its users. Social media can suck anyone in so easily, a way to unwind from the day or just take a small mental break can turn into hours of endless scrolling. Not only does this provide no value to your life, but it can also create FOMO (fear of missing out) or the keeping up with the Jones’ attitude that is a losing battle.
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Smart Ways to Teach Your Kids to Use Safe Social Media
Might sound silly but starting with a “don’t talk to strangers” rule is a good rule of thumb for safe social media. Sadly there are many people out there that pretend to be someone else for a variety of reasons. From bullying, and luring children into unsafe situations to scamming people, the social media world is rarely what it seems regardless of age. It is important to teach your kids to take everything they see on social media with a grain of salt and don’t always impetuously believe everything they see and hear.
It is important to remind your children that what they see on social media is not always real life. Rarely is it actually at the moment and what you don’t see is what is actually happening in that person’s life. Safe social media includes the mental health of the user. Knowing that going in, most of what you consume is meant to show off, brag, or an advertisement for a product thinly veiled as a normal post. It’s not the real life that we live day to day, yet little tidbits that people choose to share with others for a certain reason.
Safe social media can be fun, a connection with others, and a way to share and communicate with those all over the world. Which can be a remarkable thing for a young person. There are positives to safe social media and it is something that can be enjoyable as long as everyone is being respectful and getting what they want out of it. When kids use social media they should always be cautious when approached by a stranger, or a situation seems too good to be true. Teach them to use their gut, don’t send people money, or meet up with anyone in person that they don’t know.
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What You Can Do as a Parent
Social media is here to stay and something that kids are not only exposed to at a very young age but they will also need to learn how to use it properly for their future. Even adults can struggle with safe social media on many of the same aspects to varying degrees. Set healthy boundaries for social media, often it can be a mindless thing that people do and don’t realize they spend hours mindlessly scrolling to no benefit of themselves. Kids will imitate their parents and others, so if you want to limit social media, you have to do it first.
By setting this example you will be able to do a few things to help promote safe social media use in your home. Help guide children with what is happening in the real world vs, what they see just in pictures that someone else is posting, it is almost the equivalent of watching a tv show or movie, things can be portrayed as that fake on social media. Setting social media limits can also help support safe social media, addiction surrounding social media is a real thing, that is preventable.
One of the easiest steps to safe social media is to check privacy settings and make sure it is at a level that you are comfortable with. From having a friends-only social media site to location services turned off, you will want to make sure your child is as safe as possible. From the mental health aspect by setting the example of doing activities together as a family and not positing every moment on social media, but living in the now. There are even software programs that can limit your social media usage or even “spy” on your child.
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Like everything else, using any of these software or other apps should be used with caution. Most importantly teaching safe social media habits from the beginning is vital. Also, instill in your kids that once something is on the internet it is there forever, literally for the rest of their lives. Not an easy thing to comprehend at a young age, but very important to keep that at the forefront of their mind.
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