reach a stage where they want to connect to social media, but what’s the best
way to keep them safe online?
If your child
is hitting their tweens, it’s more than likely that they are wanting to start
being active on social media – on sites such as Facebook, SnapChat, Kik or
Instagram. But what age is the right age? How much time is the right time? And
which social media channels are appropriate?
Here are some helpful hints…
Timing is everything
It’s the big
question: when should you let your child hit the social media scene? Most sites
have a minimum joining age of 13, and experts say the rules are there for a
good reason. “By 12 to 13 years, a
child should be developing enough understanding to comprehend it, listen to
parental advice and use social media responsibly,” says psychologist Dr Karen
Communication is the key to keeping your
child safe on social media. “Have
an open relationship to discuss digital use, while never judging your child for
an error they may have made,” suggests Dr Phillip. “Support is essential, but
judging sends them underground.”
You have every
right to keep tabs on what your child is doing online. “If your child, especially under 15 years,
refuses to allow you access, then alarm bells should sound,” she says.
balance between trusting your child and protecting your child,” explains Dr
Phillip. “A good way to manage this sensation of social media is to look at
your child’s history to see where they have been, and be aware of all their
There are a
few things in particular that your child needs to know about social media:
- Stranger danger. “Discuss
the issues surrounding internet predators and the reason why they do what they
do,” advises Dr Phillip.
- Stay on safe
sites. “Remind them not to visit sites they are not
aware of and to always look at the URL address,” she says.
- The internet is forever. “Let them know that anything they write
on sites they visit can at any time become public knowledge. Are they prepared
and happy for the world to see and read their postings and comments?”
Rules Are Okay
can keep some control over your child’s social media use – it’s about providing
boundaries just like any other part of parenting. “You should have a degree of regulation on the
sites your child can visit and hours of use,” says Dr Phillip. “For example,
not taking a phone or device into their room, or having to switch it off after
Most of all,
give yourself time to get used to it. “This
is a totally new world parents are entering into,” Dr Phillip adds. “No one
gets it right every time so parents need to stop beating themselves up if their
child ventures outside the safety zone – just be on hand to check and support.”
Help Is on Hand
control over your child’s social media and internet use is so important. There
are some great free apps that can help you do this on your child’s device and
the computers they use, including:
- Spyrix Keylogger
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