What to teach your kids about social media
A few things you need to know before your child starts posting her life online.
By Olivia Yao, Three Moons | Yahoo SHE – Sun, Jan 19, 2014 9:20 PM PHT
Let’s say your child has just asked you for a Facebook account because all her friends have one and she doesn’t want to be left out. You begin to worry about what she will post, who will contact her (stranger danger!) and her behavior online. But you know you can’t shield her from social media forever.
“I think that children who are in their tweens are ready to be exposed to social media sites,” says Mai Mai Lim, the e-learning coordinator of The Beacon School Philippines. “Tweens are most vulnerable to peer pressure and are most likely to do something to fit in, and signing up for a Facebook account could be a ticket to the ‘cool group.’” Once this happens, Lim says, “I would rather inform my child about the sites that they will inevitably know about than leave them in the dark or worse, have them misinformed.”
1. Teach your kids that they don’t have to behave differently just because they’re online.
“I always try to remind my students about the Golden Rule, and that helps them keep their attitudes in check, regardless of what environment they are in,” says Lim. It is so easy to say whatever you want online because you aren’t facing who you are interacting with. However, this has caused a lot of online bullying. Some people even hide behind anonymity and freely put down other people by bashing them.
Let your children know that whether they are face to face or chatting online, they should always treat others with kindness and respect.
2. Teach them how to deal with negative situations online.
First of all, Lim stresses that social media is not a bad thing. Your child is growing up and you are equipping her with the tools to communicate and express herself. However, you need to educate yourself about it first.
“Parents should continue focusing on equipping their children with the skills and values that will allow them to effectively deal with negative situations and material found on social media sites,” she says. “Educating themselves on these site’s features will also give them more confidence when talking to their children about staying safe online. Empower yourselves with information.”
3. Teach your kids that there are rules they have to follow.
Next, if your child is below 13, Lim says, “You might want to ask for their password so you can monitor their activities. However, not all families have the same lines of communication, so informing your kids about the pros and cons of these sites might be the best rule of thumb.”
Besides knowing your child’s password, you can also be in charge of accepting any friend requests, approving the games she wants to play and monitoring her social media activity.
Another suggestion Lim has is to limit the time spent on these sites. “Make sure that the devices are used in a common area in your home. Apply the same rules that you would give when your kids have friends over. When they are in their room, do you have them leave the door open or closed? If you answered open, then the door to their virtual worlds should remain open, too.”
4. Teach them that going online can be a way for both of you to bond.
“Social media can be a powerful tool if utilized properly,” stresses Lim. “A very useful website for these concerns is Commonsense Media. Here you will find videos, articles and even lesson plans that will allow you to effectively communicate with your children and students regarding issues on digital citizenship.”
A good way to deal with this is to turn it into a bonding activity with your child. Let her know that you are supportive of her online life and that you want to be her partner as she navigates through it.