Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, Google+, LinkedIn, and more, social networking sites have become a part of our everyday lives. While I welcome social media and the way it connects us to the people in our lives, children should not be given free rein on social networks. It is important for you, as a parent, to closely monitor your child’s online activity and be aware of most of their internet interactions.
A Few Facts
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 22% of teenagers log on to their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day, and more than half of adolescents log on to a social media site more than once a day. This presents multiple opportunities for: misuse of the internet, cyberbullying, and privacy issues. While there are very real benefits to allowing children to use social media (socializing, enhanced learning, researching topics of interest; i.e. health information), there is also the real chance that your child could become involved in online activities that they should not engage in. This is why it is important for parents to closely monitor their child’s various social networking sites and know what your child is posting, who their ‘friends’ are, and what types of conversations they are engaged in.
My teenager has a Facebook profile and he is also on Instagram. He asked if he could also get a Twitter but I thought it was best to limit his online activity to only two sites – to lessen his exposure and to also make it somewhat easier to monitor. I have all the passwords to his accounts; and while I do not go on his sites without his permission or presence (we review his online activity together – at random), I think it’s important that I have his passwords and am able to access his accounts in the event that I need to research or locate information that he has shared or received online.
We also engage in frequent conversations about his online activity – things that he has seen, posted, sent, and what was sent to him. I always approach our interactions from a position of curiosity. I avoid accusations and I look for every learning opportunity where we can work together to determine a better way of conducting social networking activities. We review his friend’s lists, his messages, and his groups to ensure that he is interacting with people that he physically knows; and not accepting or requesting friends that he has never met in-person.
See the Social Media Monitoring Tips printable (available in the Free Member Resource Library) for more information on how to closely monitor your child’s online activity.