Protecting Our Children From The Dark Side Of Social Media
The digital era has bought with it plenty of pros and cons. In the business world, we are able to access our consumers directly and communicate with our stakeholders. We can promote our services free of charge. Email makes communications instant, and it has improved our productivity.
The internet has also given us a voice in our personal lives. Now we can join like-minded people and force governments to take us seriously. Whether that is through movements like #Metoo or promoting the changes we need to make to improve the climate. There are multiple ways we can use the internet to make changes to our society and improve the lives of others.
Unfortunately, there is a darker side to the internet, particularly social media. While as adults, we can handle this to a degree, what about our children? How do we protect them and teach them to stay safe when they use social media?
It’s important to remember that social media wasn’t designed for children. Over the years, the younger generation has taken over, with apps like Snapchat and TikTok being highly attractive to a younger audience. There are increasing demands from children to their parents to be allowed to have access to social platforms; in some cases, our kids make profiles, lie about their age and take matters into their own hands.
It’s essential to monitor any devices that your kids use. Cyberbullying, grooming and other crimes are frequent and often aimed at the young. Try and talk to your children about any messages or accounts they follow that you are concerned about. You also need to keep on top of their usage. Bullying at school used to stop at the end of the school day, now it can continue on and on into the night, and your child may feel they cannot escape from it. So ensure you limit their use. Perhaps only allowing them to access these apps when they are at home with you.
You should also talk to the school. Many schools have access to the latest parental controls and guidelines for children and social media so you might find they can help you protect your kids. If you have witnessed anything upsetting such as abusive messages, show these to your school and ask them to help you take control of the situation. You should keep in contact with other parents too – some Facebook groups in your local area can help manage this.
Teach your children the importance of how they present themselves on the internet, especially as your teens get older and more independent. Once something is on the internet, it stays there. This can be profoundly damaging to their future career or relationships.
Finally, if you see anything that you think could be illegal or accounts that seem suspicious, talk to your local police officers. They take cybercrime seriously and understand the damaging effects it can have on young peoples lives.