If your kids are now at the age where they’re starting to really get involved in social networking, you’ve probably been wondering if there are any concerns you should have. Indeed, there are plenty of potential problems to be wary of on the internet, and there have been plenty of cases of youth being victimized in various ways through an activity that stemmed from their usage of social networking sites. With that said, here are four concerns you should try to be aware of and protect your child from.
You might not think that the social network itself is something that you need to be concerned about, but these days, sites like Facebook and Twitter are facing lots of criticism for sharing and selling their users’ personal data. While most of the big social media sites have been accused of doing this, there are some newer platforms that have higher standards for user privacy protection. For instance, Emenator is a free membership based platform that doesn’t sell any of your information, which means everything is in your hands. Be sure to research privacy concerns before letting your child or teen share the details of their personal life.
It’s important that you make sure your kid’s profile and posts are only visible to real friends and family members. Leaving their pictures, activities, interests, and commonly frequented places out there for the world to see isn’t a good idea because a stalker, thief, or another kind of criminal can use this information to plot a crime. Likewise, it’s important to verify the legitimacy of new friend requests to make sure they’re not coming from impersonators.
Sometimes it’s the content itself that makes social media a dangerous place for kids. Try to keep an eye on your kids’ newsfeeds and liked pages to make sure they’re not viewing stuff that’s inappropriate for their age. Nowadays, kids are growing up faster than ever – often in negative ways– and much of that premature exposure to adult concepts comes from using social media.
Finally, another concern that often goes overlooked is how frequently your kid is using social media throughout the day. Of course, it’s not healthy or productive for them to be constantly pulling out their phone to check their messages and post comments and status updates. Try to limit their online activity to no more than 1-2 hours per day. Letting them use social media obsessively might seem like an easy way to keep them occupied but it can lead to them exhibiting signs of depression, laziness, and rebellious behavior.
At the end of the day, it’s up to parents to monitor their children’s online behavior and to moderate the amount of time they spend online. All kids everywhere will test the limits but with so many causes for concern, it’s up to mom and dad to ensure safe browsing, chatting and sharing habits. Their safety and well-being are at risk, so it’s up to you as parents. Always remember the buck stops here.