It is so important to ensure that your children use social media wisely and safely. We were disheartened this week to hear a local high school had experienced an altercation among a group of students after a fight started amongst them via social media. As a result of this altercation, Live 5 News asked us to share a few social media safety tips for teens and young adults. If you’re planning on gifting a new smartphone to your teen this holiday season, make sure that your family follows along with these guidelines.
- Talk to your kids and teens before letting them get on social media.
- Explain the concept of a digital footprint and that every action they take can be traced (yes, even with Snapchat’s disappearing messages).
- Lay ground rules from the start. If you don’t have rules in place, make them now!
- Have your kids sign a social media contract. You can download our social media contract at the end of this blog post.
- Never let your kids take their devices into their rooms at night. Have a charging station in the kitchen where all devices must stay once past a certain time each night.
- Reward your kids with the Wi-Fi password once homework and chores are done.
- Go through your kids’ phones! Read the texts they’re sending. See the photos they’re sharing. Login to the games they’re playing. See what apps they’re using. Every. Single. Day.
- If you see something you don’t like, explain why to your child, warn them and then take away the device if they’re not following your rules.
- Talk about bullying, talk about pedophiles, talk about self image … and how their online presence can truly make or break their life. Remind them often.
- Encourage your kids to unplug, look up and put their devices down. Model that behavior yourself and be present.
We recommend signing a social media contract with your child. This may seem unnecessary, but when abused, social media can be a dangerous place. Make sure your child knows of these dangers and plays by your rules. If you are gifting a smartphone or tablet this year, talk to the service provider about ways to block inappropriate content from your child’s devices. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.