Social media has made such a huge impact on our society that it is truly unbelievable what it allows us to do. For one thing, it connects you to friends and families abroad. This is a truly remarkable feat, especially when you think about how much long distance rates and frequent visits would cost.
Of course, this huge convenience comes with its own set of risks as well, especially if your kids are involved. And as a parent, the best way for you to keep them safe is to help them become more aware of the dangers that come with social media.
The great news is, this works even if you’re parenting from abroad. Although you can never really eliminate every single risk there is, you can still help your child become more responsible social media users.
Teach them what information CAN and CANNOT be shared
If there’s one huge hazard that social media poses, it’s the fact that people tell everybody else where they are at almost every moment. They don’t even have to check in – one look at some of those selfies and you know exactly where the picture was taken.
Unfortunately, not all information should be shared to everyone. Knowing where your kids are and what their habits may be could be very powerful information that criminals can use.
If you follow your child on any of their social media profiles, keep close track of what they post. Talk to them about the harm in letting everyone know their every move. Help them decide which posts are worth sharing or not.
Teach them how to protect their identity online
Kids gets excited pretty easily. And the moment they see anything new or exciting, they’d jump right in, regardless of what information is being asked of them. This can turn very dangerous in an instant.
Advise your kids not to add strangers up online, nor to give out any of their personal information like your home address or your phone numbers. If there are promos or contests that they want to join, always tell them to run it by you first so that you can check for legitimacy.
Teach them how to respect others online
Although there’s a lot of love being passed around online, there’s also a lot of hate going around as well. A lot of conflicts online may seem petty, but considering how fast news travels around the internet, even the smallest incident could be blown out of proportion. This could leave your child vulnerable to cyber bullying, affecting not only their emotional and mental health, but their physical well-being as well.
Make sure you give your child enough orientation on how to properly react and respond to different posts they see online. Nowadays, a single outburst can mean instant fame, and not in a good way.
Teach them to go easy on the selfies
Nowadays, it’s normal to see self-portraits being posted every second. While it’s normal for parents to dismiss the selfie phenomenon as a harmless trend, it actually hurts your kids more than you know.
From a psychological standpoint, it has become a habit for people to post selfies because they crave for the attention that it brings. Usually, the better the post, the more likes it also gets. This gives kids so much ego based on something very superficial. This makes them post on external beauty too much and makes them lose focus on the more important things in life.
These selfies also pushes kids to crave for attention without even thinking about how they’re getting it. Today, it doesn’t even matter whether their own families and friends like how they look on those pictures. What matters is that hundreds and thousands or people are liking them, even of every single one of these people are strangers.
Teach them about the importance of privacy settings
If, as an adult, you have found yourself irritated at how these privacy settings across different social media platforms are just too detailed and meticulous, this is one time that you can start thanking the geniuses behind them.
If you can’t control what your kids post, the best thing you can do is teach them how to limit who sees those posts. Teach them how to show their posts only to their friends, unless they’re reposting something for promotional purposes, or if a certain post does not really give away any sensitive or personal information.
Teach them how to keep their communication lines open
It doesn’t even matter if it’s social media-related or not. If your kids know the value of having a continuing stream of communication with you, their parent, then there is also a huge chance that a large layer of protection against social media threats is already in place.
When you and your kids are close, they would tell you what’s going on in and out of their daily lives. And yes, there is also a huge chance that they’ll tell you about people they add on their social media accounts, as well as things they post.
Of course, all this has to come from you as well. As long as your kids feel that they can always talk to you about anything without fearing judgment, they will continue to keep those lines open. But the moment you make them feel that you’ll be jumping on them and nagging them with every move, then there’s a huge chance that your kids won’t even let you know what social media profiles they have, let alone add you up as a friend.
As parents, we all have the obligation to keep our kids as safe as possible. Even if you’re abroad and your kids are back home, this does not save you from this responsibility. If anything, it should make you be even more vigilant, knowing that a lot of your contact will be taking place online.
Special thanks to The Intentional Life for the main image.