How to Ensure Social Media Safety for Kids
How much do you know about your child’s social media usage? Almost half of pre-teen kids (9-12 years old) own a smartphone. A CNN feature on smartphone and tablet use highlighted that they often spend as much as five hours on their devices daily for entertainment purposes. During this period, kids tend to amuse themselves by watching videos on YouTube and browsing through social media.
Though educational videos and memes are great for entertaining your kids, they can easily endanger themselves if they don’t use social media properly. Make sure that your children have a safe and fun time online through these security tips.
Teach them to secure their social media accounts
People around the world use all sorts of social media platforms. This includes hackers and identity thieves. To ensure that your child is safe from these harmful individuals, you need to teach them how they can secure their social media accounts.
Start off by creating strong passwords! Later’s guide to securing Instagram accounts from being hacked emphasized that weak passwords are the number one culprit when it comes to hacking and phishing attempts. So, make it a habit to double-check password effectiveness with your kids. You can even use a password strength tool. And as an added layer of security, encourage your child to turn on the two-factor authentication feature. This setting will require your users to verify their identity using a security code every time they log in. Malicious individuals will then have a harder time getting into your child’s account!
Discuss how they can use their Social Media accounts responsibly
Passwords and settings can help safeguard your child’s account, but they may also opt to give away personal information to others. A study conducted on American children revealed that nearly 40% of kids accept friend requests from strangers, so these unknown people now have access to everything they share. Furthermore, the study also revealed that they were more likely to protect their personal information from their parents rather than strangers they met online.
So, before you teach your kids what’s safe to share online, let them know that you’re on their side. You can then discuss which things are safe for them to talk about on social media. Allow them to have fun by sharing funny memes and insightful videos, but discourage them from disclosing private information, like their birthday, cellphone number, home address, and school address.
Limit their time on their device
Social media can be beneficial for your kids, since it lets them connect with their friends and classmates. However, excessive social media usage can be detrimental to their health. In fact, a US study on 12- to 15-year-olds revealed that teens who used social media for more than three hours had a greater risk of developing mental health issues.
Make sure that they are exercising healthy boundaries with social media by limiting their screen time. Cynthia Wong suggests that putting devices on airplane mode or placing them further away from your kids can help decrease their screen time. These strategies will help them resist the temptation of checking notifications and messages right away.
Watch out for signs of cyber-bullying on Social Media platforms
Have you noticed that your child is suddenly avoiding their devices? Angie Boy, program manager of the Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children, states that this avoidance can be a sign that your child is experiencing cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying refers to any intimidation, harassment, or threats made via electronic means. And if left unchecked it can lead to depression or anxiety in children.
Given this, if you see your kids hiding their screen or avoiding their devices, step in and have an open conversation with them. Your love and support can help and heal a child dealing with cyber-bullying.
Keep your kids safe by teaching them how to use social media responsibly. Ensure that they observe security measures, follow screen time guidelines, and stay away from malicious individuals. This way, they can have a fun and safe online experience.