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Family Matters

Keeping Your Kids Safe Online

November 1st, 2016

By John Wood 

Only a decade ago, it would have been tough to predict the massive impact social media would now have on our everyday lives. Do you remember a day recently that you haven’t opened Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat? You probably can’t..right?

As a full-time internet marketing specialist, and somebody who spends most of his waking hours connected online in some way, social media is a part of my everyday life. And as the father of eleven and eight-year-old children, I have seen social media start to become part of their daily lives, and I know they are not alone. A recent study by safety advisory site Knowthenet for instance, reports that more than 59% of children have now used a social media platform by the time they are ten.

There are plenty of good aspects of social media for younger people; it allows them to stay connected with family and friends, get involved with charities and good causes and helps them express themselves in creative ways with people who have similar interests.

Unfortunately, this trend of “growing up digital” also allows our children to easily over-share information about themselves online, sometimes to complete strangers and also exposes them to content and situations they may not be emotionally prepared for including cyber-bullying, online predators, self-image issues and peer pressure situations.

As parents, we have to accept that social media is here to stay and that we can no longer protect our children by simply limiting their online experiences. Instead, we have the task of having to raise safe, responsible Internet citizens. We can do this by educating them and talking openly and honestly with them about the risks they may face as they navigate through the turbulent waters of social media.

Educate Yourself

You won't be able to educate your children about the dangers of social media unless you understand it yourself. You are going to feel much more comfortable about your child using social networking sites if you understand some of the terminology and how they work yourself.

Take the time to signup and familiarize yourself with all the popular social media platforms, that not only means Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram but the lesser-known sites that are capturing the attention of younger people these days including Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, and Periscope.  Ideally, you will know how the privacy and settings work for each of these sites, along with understanding how the block and report features of each platform works.

Set Up Their Accounts For Them

Once you understand how each social media site works, you can set up accounts for your children after agreeing on which platforms they will use. If you create the passwords, you can log in at any time to change things and see who your child is interacting with, who their friends are and the type of content they are posting or sharing.

Talk To Your Child About Social Media

Foster a culture of conversation with your children about their online habits. If you approach them in a calm, non-judgmental attitude, it will set the stage for a more productive, honest conversation regarding their online presence.  The majority of younger kids don't realize the risks of social media, so it is important to discuss situations in which these sites can cause harm to both your child and others.

For more social media tips for keeping your kids safe on social media go to www.edmontonschild.com.

 

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