By: Pre Priyadarshane, Interactive Director at Imaginasium
When I was asked to write a guest blog post about issues facing parents today with teens online habits and their use of social media I wasn’t sure where to start. There is so much to cover and so many sub-topics that deserve posts on their own. I will focus on why parents should take an active role in child’s digital citizenship from the start.
Many parents are concerned with online safety especially because there are many unknowns. Parents now have to worry about cyberbullying, kids forming relationships with dangerous people online, and seeing inappropriate content online.
How do you raise your kids and protect them in this digital age? The role you take today will help shape your child’s path to “digital citizenship”.
Facebook and Your Teen
Banning your teen from facebook is an easy solution, except that it’s not. The fact is, your teen views her participation on facebook as an extension of her physical life. Most teens use social media to post comments on friends status updates, post status updates, and share photos and videos. Social networking among 12 – 17 year olds has been growing at a rapid rate — 95% of this age group is using social media. Chances are your child will be participating in a conversation on Facebook very soon if she isn’t already doing so.
Don’t ban her from facebook, instead, educate your teen on appropriate use. Help your teen set up his/her profile and be a part of your teens digital life from the beginning. This way you can ensure that your teen feels comfortable asking questions when they need advice from you in their encounters on Facebook.
This will give you a chance to make sure privacy settings are set up properly for your teens facebook profile.
You can use this time to educate your teen on the fact that anything she chooses to post online can be shared, saved, and forwarded to those who she didn’t intend to share with. There is a paradigm shift towards a more open sharing of information, so you should make sure your teen aware of implications of an open life and the responsibility that comes with it.
At this time you can request your child to friend you on Facebook, just so you can be in the background and ensure your child is making safe choices. Don’t look at this opportunity as a chance to spy on her life. Be respectful of her privacy and boundaries. The respect and privacy you provide your child offline should be provided to her online as well. Let her know that the measures you take are meant to ensure her safety, not to spy on her.
Inform your teen that she can control who sees what on Facebook. Encourage the use of these privacy controls depending on her trust level with the intended audience.
Prepare your teen to be deliberate in what she shares and think of future implications prior to posting a post, picture or a comment on Facebook.
One third of online teens have shared their password with their friends, boyfriends etc. Teach your teen to never share passwords and tell her why this puts her at risk.
Parent’s Concerns with Their Child’s Facebook Use
56% of parents feel that it is a distraction from homework, and other activities. In today’s digital society, your teen’s screen time should be managed properly. Keep in mind that social media is an avenue for socialization and communication, which is essential to their development. It is fair to ask that tasks such as homework and chores are completed first.
46% of the parents feel that they aren’t spending enough time with friends and family. Facebook is a social outlet that kids use to communicate with their friends. Having said that, properly managed screen time is the best policy to minimize these concerns.
Meeting strangers online, cyberbullying and being victims of cyberbullying are other major concerns. Education is key here. Taking an active role early and you’ll have a head start in navigating your child through her digital life. Educate yourself so that you can guide your child through digital waters.
Helpful Tools and Resources for Parents
Monitoring Online Use
It is a good idea to manage and monitor your child’s online use depending on earned trust and your child’s age. There is a thin line between monitoring and spying, so be careful. Let your child know if you are monitoring and remind her that it is for her safety.
- Use built in parental controls for Windows, Mac, iPod, iPad and iPhone to control access.
- AVGFamilySafety — a monitoring software that can be used on most devices. I personally use this on my children’s devices. I’ve let them know that I am doing this to protect them.
- Use safe search options in most search engines when your child is using internet at a minimum
Educate Yourself and Your Child
Here are some additional resources you can use to educate your child:
Facebook Parents Safety
Facebook Privacy Settings
Modern Parents Guide
Reporting Cyberbullying on Facebook
Education on Cyberbullying
This guest blog post was written by Pre Priyadarshane, Interactive Director at Imaginasium