Technology and social media have become an integral part of everyday life. Kids use their own devices now to log onto their YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat accounts. They also watch you, the parents, use your smartphones on a regular basis too. Some of us even have jobs now there you depend heavily on social media, and we use our phones constantly to connect with clients and businesses throughout the age.
The rise of social media has introduced another layer of parental responsibility that never existed before. We now need to constantly monitor and guide our kids’ online activities in order to ensure social media remains a resource, and not a risk.
Knowing The Dangers
Social media can be a hub for things like cyberbullying and questionable activities. Without meaning to, kids can share more online than they should. Most teens post photos of themselves online, use their real names on their profiles, reveal their birthdates, interests, post their school’s name and the town in which they live.
Revealing such personal information can make kids easy targets for online predators and others who might mean them harm. In fact, many teens say they have been contacted online by someone they didn't know in a way that made them feel scared or uncomfortable. Teens also report to have received online advertising inappropriate for their age and have lied about their age to get access to websites.
The Ground Rules
Technology is a privilege, and not a guaranteed right. If your kids are old enough to type in the password to gain access to a device, they are old enough to understand there are rules to follow in order to earn the privilege of using the device. The consequence of not following the rules is a technology ban. Examples of ground rules include:
- Everyone must ask permission before using their device, or downloading a new app.
- Cell phone usage is allowed only at certain hours in the evening, or after homework has been completed.
- There cannot be any phones at the table or while driving.
- Anytime a new screen name is created, it must not be personal and social media biographies must not give away too much personal information.
- Parents have access to all social media accounts which includes giving usernames and passwords.
Finally, it’s also important to practice what you preach. Surely you know by now that kids are sponges, and they are constantly learning by example. By practicing positive social media habits yourself, you're setting up your children for a positive, rewarding, and inspiring social media experience.
DREAM, one of the Midwest’s well-known youth mentoring organizations, provides life-changing and life-enriching experiences to at-risk youth through mentoring and after-school programs in Omaha, Nebraska, and Springfield, Missouri. Their proven approach puts children in a comfortable setting where they’re encouraged to discuss openly, learn, and grow as individuals. Are you interested in getting involved with DREAM? Contact us today.