Blue Suit Mom

Social Media Safety & How to Protect Your Child Online

Kids with cell phones

Kids now spend more time than ever looking at mobile screens. As media consumption shifts, so do our responsibilities as parents, as we try to keep our children safe in this new frontier which leaves them much more vulnerable than watching television did for generations past.

From identity theft to cyber bullying, online media usage comes with a disconcerting amount of risk for naive users. Here are a few tips for discussing online media safety with your kids to keep them in the clear.

Why You Need to Have the Talk Now

You may think that your child is too young to get into any real trouble online. But if your child is old enough to use the internet unsupervised, then they are old enough to be educated on how to do so safely.

Your children are used to having trustworthy protection in all that they do. You work hard to shield them from the scary dangers that are out there in the world, but doing so online is an entirely different ballgame. Privacy is a foreign concept on the internet. Virtually every keystroke is recorded in one manner or another. The internet doesn’t care that your child is a young, impressionable minor; your child’s online habits will be used to target them.

With this in mind, you must help your child understand how to use the internet safely. Review the importance of not revealing personal information to strangers online and protect your family from identity theft by using a digital service. Your kids should also be wary of oversharing on social media, even with people who you know. You never know when posting to Facebook about leaving for a vacation could lead to your home being burglarized while you are away.

Break Down the Basics

To start, make sure your child understands how critical it is to never share your address, phone number or Social Security number on the internet. The only exception to this is when they have your permission to make a purchase online from a reputable retailer. Offer an age-appropriate explanation about the risks of this information falling into the wrong hands.

Set clear boundaries of what websites your child is allowed to visit. If you feel that your child is ready for a social media account, require that you have visibility of their posts either by friending or following your child or by having their account login information. Use all of the privacy settings that are available to keep your child’s posts limited to people who he or she knows personally. Set up the profile together so that you can learn about all of the privacy options together and ensure everything is set up correctly.

How You Can Protect Your Child Online

Make sure that your child stays true and follows your social media safety rules by investing in parental control software. There are a wide variety of options on the market in varying price ranges. PC World editors recommend Qustodio and ContentWatch NetNanny 7 as the top options for parental control software in 2018. At $49.95 and $39.99, respectively, both options offer parents content filtering, access scheduling, social media monitoring and even remote access to update any of the parameters in real time.

Being a parent in the digital age comes with unique challenges that our parents didn’t have to face, but it also comes with uniquely effective solutions. By being straightforward with your child and educating them on the risks and monitoring their social media use and online media consumption, you can offer your child the freedom that he or she wants, while also providing yourself the peace of mind that you need.

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