As most of us have found, the use of social media is now an everyday activity just like brushing our teeth or making our beds. Our timelines or newsfeeds are often the first things we pull up as we muster the energy to get out of bed in the morning. It is used to provide entertainment at social gatherings and capture memories of our holidays, milestones and successes. Social media fulfills a simple basic human desire: the need to connect with other humans and to be part of a group.

As a mother, I am now entering the phase of life where my first born is asking for Social Media accounts. How did this happen? Weren’t we just watching Thomas the Train and building forts with Lego Duplo? Like many parents, while I personally see benefits in this communication movement, I have a lot of hesitation for my child to join in. All my internal parental warning sirens are going off as loud as can be. It’s one thing for my high school friends and me to stay connected to share vacation and kid pictures but a whole other thing for my 11-year old to have his own account.  I am inundated with stories almost every day with reports of people targeting young children via social media. Not to mention the fear I have of cyberbullying, but that is another whole blog to write about.

Technology & Social Media changes as rapidly as fashion trends. It is hard to keep up with it all and unfortunately, nobody gives you a guidebook to do so. However, I know this is a reality I most likely cannot avoid and so I am equipping myself to embrace it, cautiously. As I maneuver these overwhelming and unchartered territories, I want to share some tips I’ve learned on how to allow your child to be on Social Media but keep them safe at the same time.

1. Educate yourself FIRST

Before you allow your child to gain access to a social media profile, familiarize yourself with the apps they want to use. What is the purpose and how are kids using them to communicate? Here are some of the most popular social apps and sites for kids and teens:

  • Instagram
  • Tik Tok
  • Snapchat
  • Yolo
  • WhatsApp
  • House Party
  • Reddit
  • Discord
  • YouTube
  • Kik

2. Establish an appropriate age to start using social media

Create a standard rule in your home for an appropriate age for social media. Kids can be exposed to peer pressure every day but setting a standard guideline takes that discussion off the table. Also, while you are educating yourself on the social media sites out there, review the required minimum age for each site. Most social media sites require users to be 13 or older to create an account without their parents’ permission.

3. Keep your child’s profile private

Most social media sites give you the option to make your account private. This means that only people whom your child has friended will be able to see the content on their profile. This is a critical conversation to have with your child because he or she will receive friend requests from complete strangers. It is important for the child to discern between a real “friend” and a stranger. As good practice, remain attentive and check your child’s privacy settings regularly. With all the “software updates,” settings can switch, and automatic changes made. Stay vigilant with your child’s privacy!

4. Prohibit posting personal details & set rules for their social media use

Never allow your child to share information about themselves regarding personal details. This would include addresses, phone numbers, family member’s names or location. Without trying to scare them, have a conversation of why it is so important to keep this information safe. Along those same lines, establish rules and boundaries with your child of “do’s & don’ts” on social media. Limit the amount of time they can use their accounts so they can continue focusing on important things like homework. There is a balance there because you don’t want to be so stringent that your child sneaks behind your back or starts hiding things from you.

5. Don’t allow your child to post photos or videos which jeopardize their safety or character

It is critical for your child to realize that once something is posted, it never goes away. While there may not be ill intentions with a funny photo or video, things can easily become misconstrued and a wrong message sent. As someone who oversees employment recruitment, I can’t stress enough how important it is for your child to know that the wrong message can have long-lasting consequences including future opportunities and relationships.

An unspoken tip is to always keep an open dialogue with your child. While it is important for you to monitor their Social Media profiles, you will not be able to keep up with it every single moment. Maintain a strong line of communication so you can understand what is going on with your child online. Ask them to inform you whenever they received messages or invites from people they don’t know. Talk to them about the consequences of misusing social media.

Also, use your parent networks to stay on top of things. You’d be surprised how many things you can find out from other moms and dads that are in this fight with you!  They may notice or pick up on things that you didn’t catch and vice versa with their children.

Social media is a powerful tool and can be productive and entertaining if used in an appropriate way.

Colleen Wysong is the Director of Operations and oversees business procedures, technology, and Aspyre’s compliance standards. She develops, maintains and communicates the firm’s information processes and data management systems. She works to ensure the firm is meeting quality client service and performance targets as well as facilitating the human resource policies and procedures. For help with your specific situation contact Colleen Wysong at cwysong@aspyrewealth.com, (913) 345-1881 or visit our website at AspyreWealth.com. We help successful people Master What’s Next® – whatever phase of life they are in.

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