Like it or not, social networking is part of our culture. While there are some obvious risks when it comes to social media and teenagers, there are just as many benefits.
Social networking forms a big part of the social identity of many young people. Social media and chat channels provide excellent opportunities for teenagers to stay in touch and make new friends.
As a parent, it’s important that you help your child to have positive experiences on social media as well as educate them about any possible risks.
Here’s our top 5 tips for managing social media and teenagers:
- Keep it private. Advise your children to set their social media accounts to private to control who can view their information. Talk to your children about the risks involved with accepting friend and follow requests from people they don’t know and cannot trust.
- Be involved. Privacy settings are constantly being updated. In order to stay involved in your child’s use of technology we recommend setting up your own account. This will allow you to keep on top of any changes to privacy settings and give you a chance to model good social networking behaviour.
- Set expectations. Be very clear about what you consider to be appropriate social media use. Encourage your child to think carefully about what they post online. Currently, any information posted on social network channels cannot be removed. Sometimes, children make mistakes but when those mistakes are published online it can have a long-term impact on a child’s digital reputation. In some cases, young people have missed out on job opportunities or even admission to university based on their social media footprint. The UK recently introduced a law that will allow people to clear their social media history once they become adults. This is an excellent step forward. While there are calls for Australia to follow in the UK’s footsteps, currently we must remember that anything published online is permanent.
- Manage location services. Keeping your child safe is of the greatest importance. It is vital that you show your child how to manage their location services on their mobile phone to ensure they are not broadcasting their location for one and all to see. It is also worthwhile to set up alerts that will advise your child when they have been tagged in photos or posts by others. We recommend updating privacy settings to review any posts that friends tag you in.
- Keep friends ‘real’. Young people need to be very careful about who they become friends with online. Unfortunately, people may not be who they say they are. Please talk to your child to stress that they should never meet up with a person they have met online without a trusted adult present.
It is natural for parents to feel uncomfortable about social networking. For some parents, it can be difficult to manage a situation that seems foreign to them but is second nature to their children.
There are many safeguards and tools that can be put in place to help children navigate the cyber world safely. While there are parental controls available for most devices, it’s important to remember that no single tool can be 100 percent effective. Without doubt, the best approach is to model good social networking behaviour and educate your child about online risks and safety.
Esperance Anglican Community School has developed a Cyber Bullying Policy to help protect students participating in online activity. If you have concerns about your child’s online use please contact us.
If you’d like to learn more about how EACS develops young people of character, sign up to our eNewsletter.