Six tips for parents with children on social media

It’s no longer unexpected that your child will want to set up a social media account once they reach a certain age. But with so much danger of grooming, cyberbullying and the effects it can have on mental health, how can a parent make sure their child is as safe as can be when they’re on social media?

Set up the account for your child

This way you will know the log-in details and enable you to check the account as much as you like ensuring everything looks ok and they are no inappropriate messages.

Set the privacy settings

Set the strictest privacy settings, Facebook has made these steps easy to follow and user-friendly. The lock symbol in the upper right hand corner there is a Privacy Shortcuts dropdown. From there you’ll want to check the following settings:

  • Who can see my stuff?
  • Who can contact me?
  • Monitor who they friend

Discuss with your son or daughter who it is appropriate for them to interact with and more importantly who isn’t. Explain they must only befriend people they know and trust.

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‘Treat it like you would in real life’ – see here for more advice on how your kids should act online

Everything in moderation

Facebook can be a great way to interact with others, but it can also get in the way of real life socialising. It can help a shy child connect in a non-threatening environment, but it doesn’t push them to get over the uncomfortable part of talking with people in person and learning that aspect of interacting on a face to face basis. Setting up an allocated time of how much your children are allowed to spend on devices/internet is the best way to set boundaries and make sure they are getting the best of both worlds.

If your child is on Facebook, you need to be on Facebook

Even if you don’t like social media, it’s likely that your children will eventually ask for an account. You need to know how it works and also friend your child so you can see what they’re doing. If they move on to another social media platform, you need to be there too. And most important of all, talk to them about what they are doing and seeing online.

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Know the risks and benefits of social media

The internet exposes your child to a much larger world. That can be an good thing but at the same time it’s terrifying for parents. The opportunity for them to be exposed to new people, new ideas, family members, far off locations, and historical events is a huge opportunity to raise a more worldly child but they will also be exposed to potential predators and scam artists and their naivety makes them easy prey. Be prepared to make this part of your social teachings, ask them about it, participate in it. From the off-set make them aware that you will be  part of their online life from the beginning.

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