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Best Ways to Monitor Your Child on Social Media

I know that one day my kids’ knowledge and use of technology will far surpass mine. And that day is probably coming much sooner than I think. Kids are becoming familiar with technology at a very young age.

That comes with a lot of great benefits, but as they move on to social media, it can also become a major concern for parents.

Most children don’t fully understand the dangers social media poses to them. Via social media, kids can over-share information and photos. They can become exposed to cyber bullying or adult predators. Unsupervised children using social media can also accidentally navigate to sites that aren’t age-appropriate.

Recently, my son and his friend were looking up dirt bike videos on YouTube. My son is seven and crazy about motocross, and I thought it would be harmless. But they eventually landed on a video that showed a girl in a crowd who had no shirt on. Luckily the inappropriate parts were blurred out, but it was a huge wake-up call for me. Not only was I lucky that it was blurred out, but I was lucky my son made the right choice to tell me about it. We were able to discuss what had happened and implement a rule that he watch YouTube only with adult supervision.

No matter what their ages, what our children do online is a huge concern for parents. It’s important for us to understand how to protect our children and teach them healthy online habits. Here are six tips to help you keep your child safe and help them become good digital citizens.

Educate yourself.

Social media is constantly changing, sometimes as quickly as daily. Familiarize yourself with updates and changes to the social media platforms your children are using. Closely monitor new apps and social sites that you may not be familiar with. The chances are good that your kids will know what’s cool before you do.

Set up the accounts – and their privacy settings.

If your child wants to set up a social media account, you should be the one to set up the account and fill out the information. Not only will you have the log in information, but you can determine the privacy settings and dictate what content can be shared and seen.

Implement limits.

Set limits about your children’s social media usage from the very beginning. Decide the age they can open accounts and the information you’re comfortable with them sharing. Once the accounts are open, set limits on what time of day and for how long they can have screen time.

Keep it out in the open.

When your children take computers and screens to their rooms it makes it easier for them to hide what they’re doing. Keep computers in common areas of your home, like the kitchen, living room, etc. Understandably, this is harder to do with mobile devices. One family I know has a rule that all phones get set on the kitchen counter before bedtime.

Be a friend.

Tell your kids it’s time to friend mom! Make it clear that you will be monitoring their accounts, both by logging in and by friending them. Pay attention to who they’re friending and what pictures and statuses they share.

Work with your child’s teacher.

At the next parent-teacher conference, talk with your child’s teacher to see if—and how—he/she is using age-appropriate social media tools in the classroom. Find out how you can best support your child’s teacher at home by driving conversations with your child about becoming a good digital citizen.

Do you know what your child’s teacher is doing in the classroom related to social media? How have you worked with the teacher to support what he/she is doing related to social media? How do you monitor your child’s use of social media at home? Please share any tips you have so others can learn from your successes.

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