Maintaining awareness about what your kids do online while respecting their privacy is a delicate balancing act — you want to stay involved without resorting to snooping.
Teaching our kids how to be good “digital citizens” isn’t easy, but these suggestions will help you keep your child safe online.
Some parents shy away from having conversations about safe internet use because they don’t understand these new technologies as well as their children.
When these doubts creep into your head, remember: What you lack in technology know-how you more than compensate for with life experience. Your kids need you to help them navigate life’s tricky situations, and being a kid in the social media age surely qualifies as a tricky situation.
Spend more time having candid and non-judgemental conversations about social media and all-things-digital with your children. Asking questions like “Why do you use social media?” and “What are some of your favorite parts about the things you do online?” isn’t just a great way to understand how technology impacts their lives. It’s also a great way to get them thinking about the reasons behind their behavior.
For more suggestions about which questions to ask, use this truly insightful article from Medium to guide the discussion: 5 Questions to Ask Your Teen About their Social Media Use, and How to Listen.
Every parent wants their kids to make good choices on the internet, but controlling their online activity isn’t going to teach them how to stay safe or how to make smart decisions.
What you can do is have ongoing conversations about your expectations. Address things like privacy settings, how much personal information is appropriate to share, how much time you’ll allow them to spend online each day, and other related topics. For younger children, you might also lay out guidelines for which types of social media accounts they’re allowed to have and enforce rules about being able to follow their accounts.
While you’re having this discussion, don’t forget to remind your children that nothing is ever truly deleted from the internet.
It’s not uncommon for children and parents to follow each other’s social media accounts, which means your kids can see the things you post online. This gives you the perfect opportunity to model the type of behavior you expect.
Think about the types of posts you make and the content you share. For example, if you don’t want your children to become online bullies, be conscious of how you treat others online. For families who need to unplug more, suggest and abide by screen-free times.
When smart internet and social media use is a family affair, the kids are sure to follow in your footsteps.