Managing your childs social media

What to think about when managing your child’s social media and mobile phone?

So, you’ve decided to give your child a mobile phone. If you’ve read our article here you will know that the average age is 10.

However, it’s the tip of the iceberg and for many parents it’s the start of your child’s journey into social media. Which as we all know is a Pandora’s box that once opened cannot be closed. Unless of course, you give your child a non-smartphone the chances are they will now be wanting to be connected to their friends and have access to Instagram, Snapchat and the rest of the internet!

If you are giving your child access to social media platforms think very carefully about the age limits that exist on these platforms. They are there for a reason and If you are allowing them access to social media then you have to be ready to have a conversation with your child about the dark side of the internet.

First off when you are considering social media for your child it is vital that you know as much or more than your child! So, if you are not social media savvy then get on it and get in the know. Social media changes so much and so fast that you really need to be using it.

Secondly, your child needs to understand that their access to social media is based on trust and that they discuss with you what platforms they want to go on and that you have full disclosure and access to their passwords and accounts.

Thirdly, and most importantly for parents is that as a parent you have the responsibility to guide your child and look after them online. See what their friends are doing online and keep the conversation going with them.  They shouldn’t just be handed a phone and left to get on with it. Just as we did when they were learning to walk and cross the road we guided them and made them safe, and explained about the traffic and they learnt the green cross code. This is what we do with social media we need to guide our children with social media we hold their hands and keep an eye on what is going on and step in when necessary.

The dark side of social media with the risk of online predators as well as the effects it can have on your child’s mental health need to be considered. Social media can lead to an increase in FOMO the fear of missing out, envy of other people lives and the Instagram lifestyle.  Try and make sure that your child understands that what is put on social media isn’t always real.

Then there is the risk of cyber bullying and in appropriate posts and the risk of exposure to graphic images and self-harm images. Following the tragic death of Molly Russell in November 2017, who committed suicide after viewing self-harm videos and images online, it now looks like the giant Social Media firms like Instagram and Facebook are cleaning up their act. But it is still up to parents to manage and be aware of what children are watching, viewing, engaging and commenting on when they are on social media.

Here are our Top 20 Do’s and Don’ts for Managing Social Media:

  1. Do make sure you have all the passwords to any social media accounts and their phone.
  2. Do talk to their friend’s parents about social media and see what platforms they are on.
  3. Do explain about what’s real and what’s not online talk about how it can affect their mental health.
  4. Do lead by example if you don’t want them online constantly you need to do the same too!
  5. Do agree that if they want access you have access it’s a fully open conversation.
  6. Do have the conversation of the dangers of being online.
  7. Do speak to them if you see something you don’t like or don’t approve of on their account.
  8. Do be better informed and knowledgeable about social media and how it’s used and learn text speak so you can read messages.
  9. Do keep an eye on who they are making friends with and lock down their accounts so they can’t have any stranger requests.
  10. Do make friends with their friends from your account (where possible!).
  11. Do make them aware of their digital footprint that starts when they post online and how this will follow them through life.
  12. Do use the built-in timers and screen time notifications that phones have. Apple have a setting in battery usage that tells you what apps are being used and at what times.
  13. Do encourage them to talk to you about anything they see that upsets them.
  14. Do explain about what they post online and not to put anything they wouldn’t want their Granny to see.
  15. Don’t just leave them to get on with it and find their own way. Guide them through and help them.
  16. Don’t expect them to manage their boundaries on how long they spend on social media.
  17. Don’t let them have their phone in their room at night this way they can’t be online late at night accessing social media.
  18. Don’t let them put anything online in a public forum that can identify where they live or that can make them vulnerable.
  19. Don’t let them get ruled by their phone, switch off notifications which helps stop them being glued to their phone.
  20. Don’t let them become addicted to social media – beware of tech addiction.

But ultimately keep the conversations going! Here are some more resources for further info: Digital Parenting and Digital Awareness