Managing Your Children’s Social Media Risks

Childhood is full of dangers, and every new generation of parents is faced with risks that weren’t present when they were growing up. Today, social media platforms have introduced a new set of risks for this generation of children, as well as heightened the risks faced by children of previous generations. While parents may be viewed by children as hopelessly out-of-touch with today’s social media technology, they remain the most important influence on a child’s understanding of appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the digital world.

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    Managing Your Children’s Social Media Risks

    Managing Your Children’s Social Media Risks

    Childhood is full of dangers, and every new generation of parents is faced with risks that weren’t present when they were growing up. Today, social media platforms have introduced a new set of risks for this generation of children, as well as heightened the risks faced by children of previous generations.

    Some of the most alarming risks include age-inappropriate content, sexual exploitation, bullying, sharing too much information and scams. Studies have shown that children who use Instagram and Snapchat are more likely to have friendships limited to the online world, participate more in online harassment and visit sites that parents would likely not approve of. Children who use TikTok are experiencing movement disorder (e.g., tics) brought on by stress and anxiety. Lower self-esteem is another common effect.1

    What Can Parents Do?

    While parents may be viewed by children as hopelessly out-of-touch with today’s social media technology, they remain the most important influence on a child’s understanding of appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the digital world.

    Fortunately, most parents are deeply involved in helping their children navigate responsibly and safely this social media landscape, according to Pew Research.2

    For instance, 94% of parents (and 88% of online teenagers) report discussing what kinds of information should and should not be shared online, while roughly the same percentage (93% and 85%, respectively) have talked about how to use the Internet safely. Nearly nine in 10 parents (87%) have had conversations with children about what they are doing online.

    With the use of algorithms for platforms to “learn” about the user, dangers could be pushed without even realizing.  Most experts agree on the steps parents need to take to ensure their children’s safety online. They include:

    • Show interest in your child’s online activities and ask questions.
    • Encourage your child’s social media use in common areas of the house.
    • Implement all available parental control tools to block websites, establish time limits and monitor their online use.
    • Ask your child about the people they meet and interact with online.
    • Let your child know that meeting up with an online friend must first be done with parental accompaniment.
    • Discuss appropriate and inappropriate information and photo sharing; remind your child that the Internet is “forever”.
    • Set parameters around your child’s activity (e.g., no more than x hours per day, homework needs to be completed first, never at dinner, bedtime means sleep, etc.).
    • Remember that children will make mistakes. Use that as a learning opportunity and avoid censure to encourage future dialogue.

    As with most things when it comes to parenting and navigating an evolving world, communication is key healthy and happy relationships and behavior.

    Sources:

    1. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dangers-of-social-media-for-youth/
    2. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2011/11/09/part-4-the-role-of-parents-in-digital-safekeeping-and-advice-giving/

    Please reference disclosures: https://blog.americanportfolios.com/disclosures/

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