If your child is thinking about using social networking sites there are many ways to help them use them safely and appropriately. Discuss freely with your child and guide them in their usage of social networking sites by suggesting they…
- Keep control of their information by restricting access to their page
- Keep their full name, address, telephone number, social security number and bank or credit card number to themselves
- Post only information they are comfortable with everyone seeing
- Talk to their parents before considering meeting anyone face to face they have met on line and review the risks involved
Young people need support and education to develop the skills needed to understand the risks and opportunities of social networking sites so talk to your child before they sign up for an account about:
- The rules in your household on social networking sites
- The monitoring you will do on their internet usage
- The limits on time allowed on these sites that may occur if their usage interferes with family time or external social activities.
Why do children use social media... For as many reasons as adults do. The research of psychologists and sociologists shows us that they use social networking sites for:
- Socializing or “hanging out” with their friends, for the most part friends at school
- Day-to-day news about their friends, acquaintances, relatives, and peer groups
- Collaborating on school work
- Validation or emotional support
- Self-expression and the identity exploration and formation that occurs in adolescent development
- What sociologists call “informal learning,” or learning outside of formal settings such as school, including learning social norms and social literacy
- Learning the technical skills of the digital age, which many business people feel are essential to professional development
- Discovering and exploring interests, both academic and future professional interests
- Learning about the world beyond their immediate home and school environments
- Civic engagement – participating in causes that are meaningful to them
What are the risks involved in social networking...
Youth-risk research has made five key findings:
- Young people who behave aggressively online are more than twice as likely to be victimized online, so children’s own behavior on Facebook or any social space online or on phones is key to their well-being there.
- The most common risk young people face online is peer harassment or aggression – in other words hurtful, harassing, or defamatory behavior.
- A child’s psycho-social makeup and physical environment (for example, home and school) are better predictors of risk than any technology the child uses, so...
- Not all children are equally at risk online, and the children who are most at risk online are those who are most at risk in “real life,” or offline.
- Although, for the vast majority of youth, online social networking is largely a reflection of offline life, it can also amplify, perpetuate and widely distribute real-life problems or conflicts – very quickly. Something posted in anger or on impulse is extremely difficult to take back, so it has never been more important for users (of any age) to think before they “speak,” post, or send a text message.
Specific social networking risks include...
- Harassment or online bullying (“cyberbullying”) on the part of your children or others’
- Posting information about themselves that: a) could be used to embarrass or manipulate them; b) could cause psychological harm; c) could be used by criminals to steal their identity or property or – though very rare – determine their physical location to cause physical harm
- Damage to reputation or future prospects because of young people’s own behavior or that of their peers – unkind or angry posts, compromising photos or videos, or group conflict depicted in text and imagery
- Spending too much time online, losing a sense of balance in their activities (“too much” is subjective, which is why parents need to be engaged)
- Exposure to inappropriate content (this too is subjective) – although, typically, worse content can be found out on the Web at large than on Facebook or other responsible social networking sites
- Potential for inappropriate contact with adults (parents need to ensure that social networking does not lead to offline contact unapproved by them and other caring adults in their children's lives).
Reduce Incidents of Crime!
- Don’t use a weak password: Use 8 or more characters and combine letters (upper and lower case) numbers, and symbols.
- Don’t post a child’s full name in a caption. If someone else does, delete it by clicking “Remove Tag.”
- Don’t mention being away from home. Doing so is like putting a “no one’s home” sign on the door.
- Don’t permit youngsters to use Facebook unsupervised. An adult in the same household should become one of their online friends and use their email as the contact for the account in order to receive notification and monitor activity.
ConnectSafely - Smart Socializing Starts Here!
Tools which empower teaching children safe and healthy use of technology and the internet.
Includes Various Parent Guides
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Social Networking and Children
Addiction | Adolescent Depression | Bullying | Drug Experimentation |
Internet Safety/Social Networking | Sexting/Texting | Underage Drinking |
Additional Local Resources | Parent Pledge