Popular apps like Snapchat and Twitch have taken over pre-teen and teenage phones all across the globe. Social media is an amazing resource when it comes to keeping in touch with old friends, and even making new ones. However, it’s important for parents to be intentional about teaching kids how to handle social interactions online. Here are three tips to share with your children about navigating social media.
When it comes to the internet, it’s always important to abide by “safety first”. Monkey, Houseparty, and Yubo are three examples of social media apps that allow users to video chat with strangers. Although “stranger danger” is a lesson most kids learn early on, their guards tend to come down when they are online. In a virtual world, many of the strangers look just like them, making it more difficult to discern possible risks. But implementing basic privacy practices can ensure your little ones stay safe. Remind them to avoid sharing personal details and (for younger children) limit their interactions to people you are familiar with.
In the age of selfies, internet approval is a big deal. Plentiful likes and flattering emojis have become 21st-century markers of validation. So much so, that even adults find themselves yearning for them. Social media apps like VSCO and Instagram center their services around photo (and video) galleries that gain attention by garnering the most followers and likes. In such an environment, it’s easy to fall prey to questioning one’s self-worth. For children and teens growing up in this era, it’s vital they understand that their esteem shouldn’t rely on digital acclaim. Reassure your kids that they are worthy of friendship and admiration because of their character, morality and uniqueness, not their ability to earn likes.
In modern times, we’ve seen an uptick in mean-spirited exchanges in comment sections all across the internet. With apps like Tik Tok, and YouTube encouraging users to leave public comments beneath videos, some people have decided to use that liberty to become cyberbullies. Have an open dialogue with your children about being kind online and arm them with the necessary tools to handle cyberbullying, in case they become a victim.
By focusing on these three areas, when discussing social media etiquette, your children will be better equipped to protect themselves online. Remind them that you are always there to help and offer advice. Last but not least, be sure to keep a watchful eye on your children’s social media accounts to provide an extra layer of security.