Today’s tech offers some serious shortcuts. In an afternoon, we can book restaurant reservations and doctor appointments while hosting group video conferences all from our phone and order dinner for your favorite delicious Thai place. Our devices offer collaboration, convenience, and location freedom.
We love most of what technology brings to the table.
Which is why it’s so disappointing that these helpful tech innovations also have a dark side that can be as scary as the post holiday credit card bill. Sure, we as parents love the educational opportunity the internet affords and we certainly don’t mind quieter car rides and focused toddlers. Secretly we know books can’t compete with video game highs and chatting with their friends on Snapchat.
But the potential consequences stalk us and have the ability to affect our kids’ sleep, mental focus, access to creativity, and overall safety. But with the weather getting colder pushing activities indoors and gadgets surely on the kids’ lists, now is the perfect time to talk to your kids about the risks and dangers of being online.
Here are four hidden threats on social media you can talk to your kids about:
#1 Who is Lurking In Your Friends List? Teach them that you never know who’s lurking in your friends list. Make sure you only add people you already know.
#2 Strangers Can See You. Privacy is tough for kids to understand. They should really get the differences between private and public posts, and the fact that the whole web can see what they are writing, and potentially use it to harm them or their families.
#3 Online, People May Have Secret Agendas. Your kids should understand that sometimes Instagram might present an alternate, glossier version of reality and that in particular some of the influencers that they follow show lives that are not often reality and understand what sponsored posts mean—that they are being marketed to.
#4 Online, the Bullies Have No Faces. Being bullied online? Log off, and tell an adult. Never keep it in and never join in on bullying another peer.
We asked the parents on my app how they keep their kids safe online. These are just some of their ideas:
One of our moms, Sandi, talked about how her and her husband created a firewall that automatically blocks questionable content from their kids devices. She stressed the importance of teaching kids never to give out their real name, phone or address and never send photos to anyone online.
Elizabeth talked about the importance of password locked screens to have full control of when your kids go online.
Another mom uses Linda Stade’s social media contract that will help your kids know how to keep safe online.
Pauline brought up the importance of watching out for bullying, and how to help support a student your kids might observe are being bullied online.
There are many practical ways to teach your kids to know how to safely use social media, and there’s no better time to arm them with excellent tools they can use for the rest of their lives.