What to Do to Protect Them
I have previously blogged about whether parents should monitor teens’ social media activities. One reason is the possibility of cyberbullying when they are online, especially on certain social media sites including Facebook…Excuse me “Meta”. I address these issues in my book that is referenced at the end of the blog.
In a guest post on Cyberwise, nine steps are identified for parents to take to make social media safer for children. This includes the following.
- Learn How They Use Social Media. What is the purpose of your child going online? You certainly don’t want them trolling or seeking out sexual relationships with others.
- Educate Yourself on the Platforms that are Out There. How can you enhance communication about the dangers of specific sites and activities?
- Set Privacy Settings. Be sure to establish controls to monitor their activities.
- Establish Ground Rules for the Entire Family. Make sure everyone in the family is one the same page and understands right from wrong when engaged in online activities. Mixed messages will be confusing for your child.
- Provide Your Child with Ownership Over Their Security. They need to understand that the steps taken by you will improve their position on social media.
- Use Parental Controls When Needed. 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.
- Look for Signs of Distress or Concerning Behavior. Keep an eye out for specific behaviors such as change a lack of interest in schoolwork, changes in behavior, and being withdrawn.
- Explain What You’re Doing. Make sure your child knows what you are doing and why. They’ll need your support because controlling their activities may make it seem they are being treated differently than their peer group.
- Set a Good Example. Be a positive example for your child to follow. Engage in your own online activities the same way you want them to do so, a version of “The Golden Rule”. Saying one thing but doing another may lead to similar behaviors by your children.
The key is to monitor social activities the same way you monitor their delay activities. There should be a consistent message why something is wrong and the consequences if your child engages in these wrongful activities, all of which have already been identified in your discussions with your child about the possible dangers of being online.
It’s also a good idea to establish a time limit for engaging in social activities online. Based on my experiences, one approach is to give them two hours after school to communicate online with friends and others. After dinner is homework time, and the amount devoted to it will vary based on assignments set by teachers. Generally, you can give your child an hour or so watching TV, streaming shows, or other non-social media activities before sleep to help them wind down from the days’ events.
If you have any comments or suggestions for keeping your children safe on social media or any steps you have taken that support that goal, please share them with me. You can send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also purchase my book that addresses the dangers of social media and cyberbullying. The book, Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior, can be purchased on Amazon for $9.95 during the holiday season.
Blog posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on December 7, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.