As your child becomes a tween and eventually a teen, the question will inevitably arise: should you let your child join a social media network? If you listen to your child, of course, the answer will be a resounding “yes.” But, your maternal (or paternal) instinct may be telling you otherwise. After all, the media is rife with heart-wrenching stories about online predators and horrific tales of cyberbullying. No parent wants to expose their children to these types of threats.
On the other hand, many adults use social media themselves, both for personal and professional reasons. You may be thinking it’s a little hypocritical to deprive your youngster from the benefits these platforms offer when you’re enjoying them yourself. In fact, some social media experts have recommended that teens begin using social media sites like LinkedIn and even Twitter to network with professionals in the field they’re interested in one day pursuing. In addition, some employers are beginning to request LinkedIn profiles in lieu of a traditional resume. Bottom line? Social media is becoming so pervasive in our society that it’s becoming harder and harder to avoid.
So, what’s a parent to do? While ultimately, the decision is up to you, here are a few words of advice as you decide when and how to guide your child into the world of social media.
### Start With Safe Social Sites
As your child first begins expressing interest in social media, try safe networks intended for tweens like Edmodo and Everloop, for instance. While your child’s teacher will need to set-up an Edmodo account before he can begin experimenting with this social media site designed for out-of-class interaction amongst students and teachers, anyone age 12 and under can join Everloop. Everloop is a network which allows youngsters to chat with one another, play games, upload pictures, and post status updates—just like any other popular social platform. The only difference is that the site features built-in security tools and moderators that keep kids safe while they’re on the site.
### Talk About It
One of the best things you can do as your son or daughter begins experimenting with social media is to maintain an open dialogue. Talk about the positive aspects of social media as well as the dangers, and be sure your child knows what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not. Encourage your child to come to you if she encounters anything disturbing online.
### Be Aware
Your child shouldn’t be doing anything on a social media site that you wouldn’t approve of, so privacy need not be an issue. Place the family PC in a common area, don’t allow your child to have a desktop in his or her room, and encourage laptop use only in designated areas. This simple act will greatly reduce the risk of your child engaging in inappropriate online activities.
### Use a Monitoring Tool
Parental control and Internet monitoring software can provide you and your child with an extra degree of security to ensure online safety. Parental control apps like Qustodio provide you with reports on all of your child’s web activities including how much time is spent on a site, chat transcripts, and more. You’ll never have to wonder what your child is doing online again!
Before you give your child the go-ahead to enter the vast realm of social media, be sure to provide them the armor they need to stay safe. Download our free and reliable parental monitoring app today at www.qustodio.com.