Wednesday, 30 March 2022

How to Teach Children About Social Media

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post}

Online safety for children is a high priority for parents, but at the same time, you don’t want to control them or make them feel as though you’re snooping, especially if they're a teenager. Instead, educate them in the right way and give them the tools they need, show them respect but make sure they are responsible.

Make Them Aware


When your child grows up and goes to school, they are likely to encounter mean behavior. They might encounter bullying themselves or see the results of bullying on one of their classmates. It’s important to have conversations with them about this so they understand what bullying is and why it is wrong. 


Bullying has changed since the advent of social media, as the Family Orbit blog points out; young people need to be savvy about the online behavior that qualifies as bullying. Posting hurtful things about people or embarrassing photos is online bullying and needs to be reported and dealt with. It really is important to understand that bullying is about how the action is felt by the person it is targeted at and not about the person causing the pain. Their intentions may be good but if their language or behaviour is taken as hurtful, they need to know this and be able to make changes.


Consider the Consequences


Social media opens up some excellent possibilities, but at the same time, it has consequences that can affect a person’s reputation and quality of life. Depending on what you post, it can also lead to criminal activity such as burglary, so young people must learn to post carefully online. 


Since social media posts have the power to influence your reputation and life quality, you need to spend some time reflecting on a post before you hit the share button. Ask yourself whether the post is responsible and consider how it will be received by the community - never post spontaneously. 


Follow the WWGS Principle


WWGS stands for What Would Grandma Say! This is the first rule that young people should learn with regard to social media. Of course, Grandmas all have different personalities and sensibilities, but in this context, grandma stands for teachers, parents, kids, and other adults. What would the responsible person say about what you are posting? Will it be acceptable to them?


Using this rule gives your child an easy-to-remember filter for their social media posts; if they wouldn’t say something to their grandma, then they shouldn’t post it on social media. It’s about giving your child some tools they can use for themselves without your parental intervention. We all need strategies to help us out in potentially tricky situations.


Use Privacy Settings


Over the years, social media platforms have increased their privacy settings to make them more resilient and personal. It’s important to use these settings intelligently to safeguard your identity and avoid cybercrime. However, many of the social media privacy settings are complex to learn and navigate. 


Spend some time going through the privacy settings with your child and optimizing them together. You can take this opportunity to talk to them about social media privacy in general and the importance of online security. Explain the importance of passwords to them and why they shouldn’t be shared or easily guessed.


Don't Friend Strangers


The language of social media has changed the way we think about friends, at least online. Someone might be on your social media account as a friend, but you may not know them in the same as you know your offline friends. Talk to your child about what friendship really means, but be careful to be respectful as online friendships can be equally as valid as offline ones.


At the same time, you need to educate your child about how to establish boundaries for themselves both online and offline. When it comes to social media, they shouldn’t admit anyone access to their account unless they know who they are in the real world and are happy to share their online life.  As they grow older and mature, with some sound guidance from you they'll be able to tell apart the chancers and dubious characters in the main.


At the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is keep the line of dialogue open with your child. If they are sharing their online life with you and coming to you for advice that is a good sign of healthy social media usage.



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