Sharing information and images through social media has become a part of children’s and teens’ daily lives. Social media allows kids to communicate with each other and record and share what they are doing in real-time through features such as ‘live’, where you get to project live streams of your daily activities. Through the power of social media, it is not uncommon for kids to connect with people they have never met.
Smartphone apps like Instagram or Snapchat allow youngsters to share personal information far beyond what their parents could ever expect, which could possibly put them in danger. Parents need to get acquainted with the different online platforms their children use in order to protect them.
Social media is constantly evolving; new applications are created every day. Sometimes it is difficult for parents to keep up with the new technologies, and they allow their children full access to these platforms without knowing the dangers that they may hold.
What Are The Main Features Of Social Media (with examples)?
We will take the three main and popular social networking sites:
Instagram is an online platform that allows you to share your photos with your followers or anyone if you have a public account. It allows you to connect with celebrities, see their daily routine and share yours too. Unlike other platforms, it is completely visual. The only text part is your bio or the captions of your picture. Instagram allows you to chat through a feature called ‘direct messages’.
Facebook was designed to let you connect with your close ones, and lately, it is being used to make new friends. Facebook allows you to share photos, videos, and ‘statuses’ that are text updates; it allows you to go live stream and chat through their chat application called ‘messenger’.
Snapchat is a mobile application, mostly used to share photos and videos among friends. It has been ranked the second-worst platform for teen mental health. Photos and conversations on Snapchat last only a few seconds, so after the recipients have read the messages, the latter vanishes, at least unless the recipient took a screenshot of it. Senders are notified whenever the recipients take a screenshot.
Learn About The Applications. To ensure that your kids are safe, you need to find out what programs and applications your children and teens are using. Some platforms require a minimum age to register, but children can easily bypass this requirement by faking their age.
Communicate. Show interest in your children’s online lives and ask them questions. If possible, keep tablets and computers in common areas where you can observe your children using them.
Parental Control. Protect your child by having programs that provide parental controls that can block websites, enforce time limits, monitor the websites your children visit and their online conversations. Keep track of your children’s online accounts and let them know that you monitor their online activities to ensure their safety. Some children may create a fake account to fool their parents, so better go through their searches and browser history.
I suggest you set a screen time for your children. If your children do not have regulations about being online, they will probably do whatever they like, so regulations need to be clear and straightforward. Even though they have limited screen time, that does not mean they should be alone; they should be supervised while using those apps. Once you are more familiar with those apps, you can give them proper guidance and warning.
There are a lot of advantages to using social media, but a lot of disadvantages too. Cyberbullying, sextortion, and online predators are becoming very common, and children are the target. Protect your child at any cost. Let us know in the comments what you think about children using social media…