Social networking sites nowadays have a very crucial role in our everyday life. We use social media to create and share content. We use it to communicate with our friends and family. We use it as a means of entertainment and as a means to stay updated about day-to-day activities.
There are also a bunch of new social media sites popping up. Every few years a new social media site gains popularity. These social media sites are usually popular with tweens and teenagers. Social media sites are equally important to teenagers as it is important to us. It helps them stay connected to their friends and also increases their creativity and knowledge.
It can be confusing for parents to monitor children and know about every social media site that children use. It is also important to recognize the dangers involved in using social media. Social media use especially poses threat to children. Children are more vulnerable and they are just getting introduced to the world.
So how are you as parents supposed to navigate through the dangers of social media and help your kids be safe on social media? We know it is hard to navigate the dangers of social media and help our kids be safe online. Therefore, we have created this guide for you to help in keeping your kids safe on social media. So is social media safe for kids? Is there any risk associated with it? What are the dangers of social media for kids? Keep on reading to find out.
Is Social Media Safe for Kids?
Using social media can have many benefits. Social media can help children in connecting with their friends and their families. They are a great way to learn about things going on around the world. Social media can also help in increasing creativity through content creation and content sharing.
Social media has also created a platform for creating and sharing knowledge. While social media platforms have countless benefits it also subjects its users to many threats.
Social media can expose children to the dangers of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying refers to bullying through digital mediums like social media and Smartphones. According to a survey, 81% of teenagers have witnessed bullying online. Among them, only 15% of children have reported their cyberbullying to adults. This clearly shows the gravity of the situation how cyberbullying doesn’t get reported to parents.
Another problem created by social media is digital addiction. Social media sites are often extremely addictive. These are created with the intention for prolonged use. So the risk associated with using social media is the addictiveness of social media sites. 41% of people admitted that they constantly need to check social media for notifications and updates. They also admitted that they check their phones as soon as they wake up.
Social media users are also often subjected to scams. Hackers and scammers single off children to scam them. Social media can also pose a danger of introducing cyber predators to your children.
Social media sites such as Omegle, Tik Tok, and Snapchat are constantly criticized for having a lack of security when it comes to children befriending strangers. The strangers can be cyber predators or stalkers who groom your children to exploit them.
Social media all and all poses risks of affecting the mental health of teenagers. Issues related to cyberbullying, cyberstalking, cyber predators, and digital addiction can affect the mental health of children. They pose threats of anxiety, depression, social anxiety, self-harm, and body image issues.
Since the use of social media by children is inevitable, we should take certain steps to keep our kids safe on social media. It is the responsibility of parents to take measures themselves to prevent mental health issues from arising due to the use of social media on children.
Keeping Your Kids Safe on Social Media
As we talked about growing up by having social media around, is beneficial for children. But it also causes the risk of cyberbullying, cyber predators, digital addiction in teenagers. These problems can manifest in extremely severe mental health issues in children.
They can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide in teenagers. So how can we keep children safe online?
Every parent must ensure the safety of the children and measure the risk of using social media. But it is unwise to restrict the uses of social media completely to your children. Restricting social media usage altogether can cause your children to feel left out from their friends. They will miss out on several events occurring around the world.
So here are some tips to help your children use social media safely to gain these opportunities. These steps will help you in keeping your children safe online:
1# Educate yourself
It is highly recommended for parents to use the same social media as their children. You need to be clear about the social media that your children are on.
By using the same social media platforms as your children, will help you notice the content they are sharing. This will help to know if they are sharing too much of the private life or not. This will help you be familiar with the social media site and the dangers that it could create.
2# Establish guidelines
Another step that we would like to give you is to set proper guidelines on the uses of social media platforms. We encourage you to limit the screen time of the children including limiting the time spent on social media. This will help in ensuring that your children are not addicted to Facebook, Instagram, or Tiktok.
You can also create guidelines regarding what they can and cannot share. The guidelines also have to be set in place about only communicating with close friends and family through these sites.
A study suggests that being active on social networking sites for higher than 3 hrs a day is going to be more harmful than beneficial. Set the time limit of 3 hours for your children so they can get updated but not addicted when they are online. Set guidelines on using social media only when they are allowed to use their screens. Rules can be created against using smartphones on the dinner table or during family time.
3# Have an open mind
Parents need to keep an open mind when it comes to tweens and teenagers. Having an open mind in talking to your children clearly about the dangers of social media and allowing them to speak their mind and talk about their fears.
You need to be aware that children won’t be willing to talk to you if you scold them or point out their faults when they make a mistake. This is the reason why children don’t report instances of cyberbullying to their parents.
They are scared that their parents will shout at them and blame them for being bullied. They are so scared that their parents will take their screen time privileges away from them. They feel that they will be disconnected from their friends if they report these instances. Hence, they do not report cases of cyberbullying to keep their parents from overreacting.
So the problem here lies in having a closed mind when it comes to the safety of children online. Parents should ensure an open environment for their children when it comes to online safety. You should freely converse about the dangers that social media may cause to your children and how you would like them to talk to you about it.
Parents should encourage their children to talk to them about any issues that they might face online. Encouraging children to talk about these issues will help prevent any harm from their children. So you need to be mindful about having an open mind and creating a safe environment about addressing issues online when it comes to your children.
4# Use Parental Controls
Parental controls are one of the best ways to monitor the smartphone activities of children. They help in monitoring the online activities as well as the web browser activities of your children.
Parental controls are software or applications that monitor the activities of a targeted device. These applications can be installed to monitor mobile phone activities including activities on social media applications.
Parental Control applications help you in giving peace of mind by ensuring the safety of your children. As you will be able to monitor the social media activities of children, you can control the level of exposure. These applications will also help you prevent the occurrence of cyberbullying and counter the threats of Cyber predators. They can also be used to tackle digital addiction by limiting screen time on social media.
Some of the best parental control applications that you can use to monitor the social media applications of children are:
Fenced AI is one of the best parent control applications available in today’s market. It is an all-rounder when it comes to keeping your kids safe online. This application helps in monitoring the smartphone activities of children including their call and texts.
This application is also a great application to gain information on screen time usage. This helps in limiting the problems of digital addiction. Fenced.ai also provides services of filtering and blocking inappropriate content and websites.
Features of fenced.ai:
- Monitor calls and text
- Monitor social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, and many more
- Monitor and limit screen time
- Blocking and filtering inappropriate websites
- Monitoring web browsing history
- Get alerts on exposure to triggering keywords
- Location alerts and insights
Bark.us is another popular parental control application. This application is best known for the range of social media monitoring provided by this software. This application allows the monitoring of about 24 different social media applications.
Bark.us also provides parents with features of alerting parents with their alert system. However, the alert system of Bark has been criticized for having unnecessary alerts.
Features of Bark.us:
- Monitoring calls and texts
- Monitoring over 24 social media applications
- Monitoring screen time
- Filtering inappropriate content
- Easy user interface
- Alert system
Qustodio is another best parental control application. This application has powerful monitoring features. The best feature that this application consists of is the panic button.
Qustodio provides the children with a feature called a panic button on their application. This helps children send their location and an alert to their parents if they are in trouble. This can be used in case of an emergency.
Features of Qustodio:
- Monitoring social media apps
- Monitoring screen time and usage
- Panic button
- Filtering inappropriate content
- Blocking inappropriate websites