As one of the most important developments of the modern Web, social media permeates our daily lives, and is certainly not going away any time soon. And as a generation who grew up alongside the rise of the Internet, our children are at the forefront of social media use, weaving it through their lives as a tool for communication, exploration, and staying updated with the rest of the world. Indeed, 70% of teens now use social media more than once a day, compared to 34% just six years ago.
However, while social media definitely has its uses, it’s not without its own addictive potential and worries of abuse. There are legitimate concerns of cyberbullying, oversharing, and other online threats that could negatively affect your children. In today’s blog entry, we look at how you can manage your teenage children’s social media use, as well as protect them from threats and harmful information.
Monitor their public social media use
Ensure that part of your agreement to allow your children any kind of social media use is that you should be able to see their profiles and what they post. This will let you catch if they’re oversharing, such as posting sensitive information, or photos that could indicate their movements and places they regularly visit.
Don’t be overbearing
Parents across every decade have learned that restricting their children’s behavior to extreme degrees will only teach them how to lie or get around restrictions. It also does nothing good for trust between parent and child. Discuss any potential boundaries with your child, and make them part of the process. Talk about decisions like handing over social media account or phone login information, or having the computer in a common area rather than locked away in a room.
Talk to them about how they must behave online
Cyberbullying is a very real problem in today’s social media-driven world. However, thankfully enough, the new generations make an effort to be socially conscious and mindful about such things. Encourage your child to read up about proper behavior, being compassionate and considering others’ feelings, whether in real life or online. Studies show that social media amplifies both positive and negative social and emotional effects, so this is an important part of your teen’s character development.
Set screen-off times at home and before bed
Social media can be extremely addictive. It’s important to set boundaries that prevent this addiction from getting a foothold at home. At dinner time, and during little family activities like movies or games, phones should be put away so that everyone can get together and bond without the electronic devices getting in the way. Such screen-off time should also be set an hour before bed, as the blue light from smartphone displays can affect the ability to sleep.
You’re not alone in helping your child adapt to the new digital world. Swiss International School in Dubai is adopting a digital citizenship curriculum that aims to make students more productive, more responsible members of the online community. The values that our new curriculum shall instill in your child will empower them to become better individuals, using social media and other online tools to better themselves.