Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Discord, TikTok? These are just a few of the many social media apps that children and teenagers are using to communicate with one another, to share their creativity and find others with similar interests. During the pandemic, children and teens (as well as adults) relied even more on these apps to stay connected with friends and family as well as for school. While being connected is an advantage, there can be some disadvantages to being online (e.g. cyberbullying, being contacted online by strangers and etc.).
Here are some tips for parents to ensure your child or teen is using good judgement and being safe online.
Learn about the apps that your child/teen is using. Download the same apps to your own phone, learn how to use them and be aware of their privacy settings. This allows you to be more knowledgeable and understand what takes place online.
Get Passwords. Depending on your child/teen’s age, get passwords to any accounts they are using so you can see the posts or messages they are sending and receiving.
Who are their followers? Make sure you and your child/teen know their followers. You can also make sure that your child or teen’s account is private to protect them from being viewed or contacted by strangers.
"Friend" or "follow" them on their social media accounts. You are there to protect them, not to be invasive.
Talk to your child/teen about what they post. Nothing gets deleted in the online world (…even if you delete it from your profile)! Talk to your child/teen about what they post and what the potential implications could be.
Talk to your child/teen about sharing information. Ensure they do not share personal information and passwords with anyone, including friends.
Keep lines of communication open! Have open conversations about the pros and cons of being online. Ask questions and be open to learning about your child/teen’s online life. This may increase their comfort level in sharing details with you.
Set a good example. It is very easy for us to spend hours and hours (…and hours) swiping up or tapping right on social media apps and electronic devices. It is important for us as role models to model healthy screen time/use and set a good example.
*Stay tuned for more information on managing your child's screen time.
Canadian Paediatric Society. (2022). Social media: What parents should know. https://caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/behavior-and-development/social_media
Media Smarts. (N.D). Digital and Media Literacy. https://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy
Nemours Kids Health. (2018) Teaching Kids to Be Smart About Social Media. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/social-media-smarts.html