Establishing something like this, and then discussing it frequently to keep it fresh in people’s minds is important. Making sure everyone is following along can help create at the very least clarity about social media use in the house, making it much easier for kids to follow the rules set out to keep them safe.
5. Provide Your Child With Ownership Over Their Security
We’ve hinted at this by mentioning the importance of including kids in the conversations you have about social media in the home, but we also thought it deserved its own point.
The idea is to get kids involved, so they see this issue as something that’s also important for them. One way to do this is to encourage kids to get on a schedule of regularly changing their passwords. A simple thing like this helps keep security in their minds while also putting them in control, which is much more likely to make your system work.
In the end, the more they feel what they are doing is for their own benefit, the better you will be at convincing your kids to adopt good habits and follow the rules when they use social media.
6. Use Parental Controls When Needed
We don’t want it to come to this, but you as parents, and also your children, do need to remember where the power remains. Kids, often in an attempt to exert their self-identity, love to rebel against any rules imposed upon them, even if they are put in place with their best interests in mind. But they need to know there are consequences, especially when it comes to social media.
Make it clear that failure to comply with the ground rules laid out will result in loss of privileges and potentially the implementation of parental controls. You can do things such as limit a user’s ability to share on social media, access the internet, visit specific sites, and more, which will surely put an end to risky behavior.
Again, we don’t want it to get to this as this type of action erodes trust, but kids need to be completely clear that you’re serious about keeping them safe, even if it means making unpopular decisions.
7. Look for Signs of Distress or Concerning Behavior
Monitor your children as you normally would, but as they start to use social media, keep an eye out for specific behaviors.
Kids having a bad experience online may start to become more withdrawn or secretive about their online use. You may see habits begin to change, or a sudden loss of interest in things that were previously important. If you spot these signs, try to find out what is happening and don’t be afraid to steer the conversation to what’s happening on social media to get them to open up.
Another thing to look out for is excessive screen time. Social media can be addictive, and it can quickly turn into something rather unhealthy. Setting strict screen time limits can sometimes backfire, but if you find your kid is on his or her device way too often, it may be best to get them detached from social media to avoid overuse, which exposes them to even more risk.
8. Explain What You’re Doing
Integral to all of this is an open and honest dialogue with your children about social media. This needs to be grounded with a justification of what you are doing. Parents don’t always need to explain what they are doing with their kids, but this isn’t one of those times.
A key reason for this is that social media is just so popular. It’s only a matter of time before they are the only one not using a particular platform, which will eventually force them to use it in secret and raise the stakes.
It’s much better to be clear what the dangers are, so when they do get on a new platform, they can take steps to make sure they are not putting themselves in harm’s way.
9. Set a Good Example
Lastly, as a parent, it’s essential you take the lead and set a positive example for your kids to follow. Saying one thing and then doing another will, in this case, downplay the sense of threat your kids feel, which will cause them to let their guard down and expose themselves to what’s out there.
This is why it’s so important to educate yourself and then establish guidelines you can also follow. Seeing their parents do the right thing without feeling restricted is the best way to encourage good habits.
Constantly Revisit the Situation
The world of social media is constantly changing. New platforms arise out of nowhere and become all the rage before anyone who’s not a part of the movement has a chance to learn what’s happening. This is when the risks are the highest; it’s an unknown environment.
However, if you’ve worked to approach the issue of social media with your kids by following the steps we’ve outlined here, you can rest easy knowing that your kids will be prepared and will respond the right way.
In the end, the shape-shifting nature of social media means you need to remain vigilant so you can find new threats when they emerge. Talk with your kids, and come up with a plan that works for everyone and makes safety the top priority.