Monitoring Your Child’s Social Media
March 13th, 2018
Healthy practices for monitoring a child’s social media includes ensuring they are the appropriate age to have an account with each platform they use. For example, Facebook does not permit children under the age of 13 to create an account; however, there is no tangible way for Facebook to enforce this. Parents should always be aware of which social media sites their children are actively using.
Use Privacy Settings
Another healthy practice parents can use when monitoring a child’s social media is to adjust the privacy settings of the specific social media accounts, as well as the web browser. This will protect your children from being easily searched by people they do not directly know and help restrict your child’s exposure to age-sensitive content.
Educate You Kids
Talking to your kids about the importance of online reputation and dangers will not only educate them, but make them more comfortable with telling you if they have any problems. Be honest and direct when explaining to them the dangers of the internet, as they are very real. Keeping an open dialogue about these issues is a great way to ensure your child is engaging in safe social media practices.
Set Ground Rules
With new abilities, comes new responsibility. Creating ground rules is a great way to set a foundation of expectations that your child must follow when using social media platforms. Have an open conversation with your children about not only the rules they must follow, but why these rules are necessary. Setting guidelines on the type of use, amount of use and appropriate times of use, will help your child understand what is expected of them when using social media platforms.
Monitoring the people who follow your child’s social media accounts is another healthy practice parents can use. While it may not be necessary to read every post your child creates, all parents should be aware of what sites their children visit most frequently and the people their children are interacting with.
Keep the Computer Visible
Lastly, keep the computer in a shared room of the house. This will not only make it easier for parents to monitor what their child is doing, but it creates a habit of using technology out in the open. The routine activities that go on around the house will help remind your children that there is a world outside of the social media platforms they are using.
Avoid over analyzing your child’s account. It is important to monitor the subjects your child is interested in online; however, you do not need to read every post your child makes to keep them safe. Instead, get to know your child’s friends and interests. Doing so will allow you to identify any inconsistencies or legitimate concerns when monitoring your child’s social media platforms.
Avoid Unfettered Access
Avoid letting your child use social media platforms without any restrictions. It is important that children understand social media use as a privilege, not a right. Do not let your children actively use social media during times where other daily routines occur, like meals or family discussions.
Avoid Communication Breakdowns
Avoid restricting your child’s use without explaining why you are doing so. As adults, we understand the magnitude of the internet and the very real dangers that come with it; however, children may not. Therefore, with each restriction you create, remind your children what motivated it and why it is necessary.
Most social media sites require users to be at least 13 years old and have parental permission if they are under the age of 18. While there are children much younger than 13 using these sites, it is important to ensure your child has a basic understanding of the internet and its capabilities before allowing them to use social media platforms.
A shift in language or tone in text posts, a drastic change in the amount of posts or new accounts and followers your child may have should all be topics you feel comfortable addressing with your child.
These could all be normal changes in their social media use, which is why watching for signs ties back to understanding your child. As parents, it is impossible to support your family and monitor your children 24 hours a day. Therefore, it is important to understand what your child’s interests are and who they interact with before they use social media platforms. This understanding, mixed with healthy monitoring practices, will help ensure you notice any changes your child reflects through social media.