Teaching Social Media Smarts
Parenting in the digital era comes with a whole new set of concerns. As you talk to your kids about what’s OK and what’s not OK online, here are some tips to help you along the way.
First, don’t allow your kids on social media until you feel they are prepared to make responsible decisions. Most sites require a minimum age of 13 to open an account. When your child is ready, begin an open conversation about what is appropriate online behavior, and what is not. Be sure to teach them to:
Be selective. Set strict privacy settings, and only accept friend requests from people you know in real life. Don’t share your passwords with anyone other than your most trusted circle, and if you receive a message from someone that sounds “off,” don’t assume it’s actually from them.
Think before you post. Be smart about what you post or say. You may think or feel something strongly at the time, but once something goes up, you can’t get it back. It’s best to assume that anything ever put on a social networking site is permanent.
How To Respond To Online Bullying. With the rise in social media comes a new danger: cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is when a person uses digital technology to deliberately and repeatedly harass, humiliate, embarrass, torment, threaten, or intimidate another person. If your child is a target of cyberbullying or online harassment, offer this guidance:
Walk away. If someone bullies you online, don’t respond. Attackers are looking to provoke a certain response, and if you give one you will reinforce their behavior. Keep the evidence – whether it’s a text message, email, or Facebook message. If necessary, you can use this as documentation later.
Use your powers. If someone sends you harassing messages, text, or comments, block them. Some sites even allow you to report cyberbullying, and will take action against users abusing the terms of services.
Know what qualifies as a crime. If a message or email includes any of the following, it should be reported to law enforcement:
- threats of violence
- child pornography or sexually explicit messages or photos
- stalking and hate crimes
- a photo or video of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy, like a bathroom