Ah. Summers in the nineteen seventies. Long sunny days spent outside frolickingly with ne’er a care. All the world was orange and brown. No one cared about sugar and everything was tinged in innocence. Cars were few on the road and children could play freely without seemingly any danger.
Paedophiles hadn’t been invented and of course there was no internet.
While many parents might be nostalgic for the olden days and wish that things were like ‘in their day’, we do have to reluctantly accept that times have changed.
And sometimes it is for the best!
No longer are children’s play areas hazardous places where you split your head open after falling onto hard concrete.
Things are safer, more regulated and better organised.
Unfortunately, there is one sphere of your child’s life which isn’t quite so easy to make safe for them.
And that is social media.
So, tempting though it is to try and turn back the clock to a time before social media, you just can’t.
For many parents, the answer to the problem of social media has either been to ignore it completely, or to impose a total lockdown.
Neither are a great response. So, what should a parent do?
Here’s our tech nanny’s top tips for guiding your child through the social media maze.
TALK TO THEM
The first thing that parents need to do is to have an actual conversation with their child, about the use of social media.
This needs to be an open discussion, whereby you talk about what’s good about social media and where the potential dangers can come from.
Kids – and parents – need to understand that there are many advantages to social media, as well as some down points. Just to recap, these are;
- Keeping in touch with family members, especially older ones or ones who are far away.
- Opening up learning and educational opportunities online.
- Interacting with friends.
- Finding new hobbies and being creative online.
- Inappropriate contact from others, including adults posing as children.
- Pressure to post photographs and other compromising material.
- Online bullying.
- Strangers gaining access to personal information.
LAY DOWN THE GROUND RULES
- Teach them kindness. Lead by example and don’t encourage teasing or laughing at people online. Even if it is a joke, it can be misconstrued when it is in text online.
- Never post photographs. Tell your kids never to post personal photographs of themselves or anyone else.
- Never post personal details, including their full name, address, school or anything else that might identify them.
- Have a curfew and be strict about when devices are to be turned off.
- Don’t allow your kids to friend anyone they don’t know in real life.
- Make them read everything twice before hitting ‘post’.
- Get them to think about the future before posting content – what would their grandparents or teachers think about it?
- Teach them privacy settings and make sure they use them.
GIVE THEM SOME CREDIT
Watching your child’s every move online is probably impossible, but it is also pretty stifling. You have to allow them some freedom.
However, you can encourage them to use a shared computer, where you can see what is happening.
But ultimately, you also need to give them some credit to follow the rules and guidelines you have set.
Ensure your child knows they can come to you if they encounter anything that upsets them, or they are unsure about.
SET AN EXAMPLE
Lastly, the best way to encourage responsible behaviour online is to lead by example.
That means sensible posting online yourself! It also means not spending every moment on your phone or tablet.
Remember, the rules shouldn’t just be for the children!