Why you need to talk to your kids about Social Media Safety

When it comes to safety online, kids see things differently than adults. Having grown up with the Internet, many kids feel perfectly comfortable sharing personal information online, whereas many adults cringe at the notion. Parents see Internet restrictions as a rational way to keep safe, but kids see them as rules to keep them from having fun. Basically, kids take the security of the Internet for granted, opting to enjoy themselves now, rather than to protect themselves from future risks.

Dos and Don'ts for Discussing Social Media Safety
  • DO foster a culture of conversation in your family from the beginning.
  • DON'T make social media a forbidden fruit.
  • DO keep the conversation age-appropriate.
  • DO make your teen the expert.
  • DON'T belittle your teen's interest in social media.
  • DO talk about your own social media use, if applicable.
  • DO be transparent about monitoring.
  • DO remind your kids that the Internet is not private.

Don't make things forbidden. “When you tell a young child 'Don't touch the stove,' what's the first thing they want to do? Touch the stove,". “So try a different approach: 'Hey, let's learn how to cook today.' In other words, show your kids how to use social media in fun and safe ways."

Don't give too much information. “Keeping it simple, not scary, is the key,". “We don't tell our very young children to wear their seat belts because they might fly through the windshield. We tell them it's safe, it's the rules, it's the way it is. And kids trust that!"

Make your teen the expert. “Parents' biggest issue right now is their fear that they can't keep up; they think they need to be experts,". “Instead, ask your teen to teach you how to use different social media platforms. When kids feel like they're the experts, they let down a lot of their barriers."This works especially well for potentially awkward issues like sexting. “Put the conversation in their court,". “Try saying something like 'Fill me in on sexting. Is it common? Is it exaggerated in statistics & the media?'"

Don't belittle your teen's interest. Even if the thought of Instagram leaves you cold and you think tweeting is for the birds, don't say so. 
“The more open and accepting we are of technology as adults, the less it is used in isolation or secretly, and the more control and understanding and ultimately success we can all have with it."

Talk about your own social media use. If you use platforms like Facebook or Twitter yourself, either for work or personally, share a little bit of that online life with your kids. This helps to facilitate a two-way conversation about online habits.

Be transparent about monitoring. It's a good idea to create a strategy to monitor your kids' social media use. That could include making sure they add you to their contact or “friends" lists and checking text and chat logs periodically. But don't keep the monitoring secret: Let your kids know that you're doing so and when.
Remind your kids that the Internet is not private. Information or photos shared on even the most locked-down social media profile is at risk of being exposed at some point. Discuss the concept of good judgment—tailoring the conversation to your children's ages—and discourage them from social media to bully or gossip about others. “Think twice, post once" is always a good policy.

Ways to shield your children from danger without harming their future

There are many dangers in the world, but being too overprotective as a parent has its dangers too. You can shield your children from danger and unnecessary evils without harming your children in these five ways:

1. Allow Risks
  •   Calculated risks are good for your children because they:
  • Create unforeseen opportunities
  • Teach children about their strengths, weaknesses and talents
  • Encourage confidence
  • Help them achieve dreams and feel alive
  • Overcome the fear of failure
  • Separate children from the crowd

    It's impossible to protect your children from all risks. So, you have two choices: allow your children to take risks in an environment you pick or hear about them taking risks after escaping your watchful eye. Teach your children that it's OK to take safe and well-thought out risks - and allow them to make mistakes.
  • 2. Share past mistakes

    Your children can learn from your mistakes, so don't keep them secret. You teach your children that it's okay to make mistakes when you share yours. Teach them how your mistake helped you. You will have a stronger relationship and phrases like "you don't understand how I feel" will be less common in your conversations.
    Pretending you are perfect is not helpful for anyone.
  • 3. Not everyone is a winner

    You aren't doing your child any favors by letting them think they are always a winner. That contrast between winning and failing is what gives all of us the motivation to improve. Teach self-worth and confidence by providing encouragement and celebrating success while still allowing your children to lose.
    If you over-compliment your children they might become arrogant and insecure. They need to see where they are strong and where they need to improve. Your children will struggle now and later in life if you try to shield them from negative feedback.

  • 4. Allow struggles

    Do not rescue your children every time they fall off their bike. They need to learn how to get up and keep going. Life can be tough and they will struggle, but if you solve all of their problems, you teach them they don't have to work hard to get things done. Your children will forever rely on adults to get things done, and when they are adults they won't know what to do.
    Tears will be shed, but it is worth it to teach them responsibility and persistence. Protecting your children from hardships is impossible, so teach them how to get through those hard times.

  • 5. Be honest

    A little white lie won't harm them right? Wrong. Honesty is always the best policy with your children. They will trust you and will be less likely to lie to you if they know you are honest with them. You aren't protecting your children when you lie to them; you are destroying your relationship with them.
    If you attempt to shield your children from every danger and every mistake, you will cripple them. Overprotective parents can also destroy their relationships with their children by doing just that. You will succeed as a parent and your child will succeed in their future when you avoid the overprotective instinct.