Your Child & Social Networking
Social Media & Your Child
Social networking has been – and still is – one of the revolutions of the online age and when used correctly is an excellent way of keeping in touch with friends and family. But it can also be a source of harm for your child (or for you and other family members, via your child). Most social networking sites set a lower age limit for membership (13 years old is commonplace), but it’s easy for children to get around it and get online at an earlier age. Encourage your child to tell you which sites they’re using, and ask them to show you how they work.
The main risks are associated with your child befriending or talking with a stranger who may be stalking them, cyberbullying from either strangers or people they already know, being scammed by downloading or linking to hoax content, and identity theft by revealing private information in profiles and posts. And though it may seem unthinkable, you child could be bullying or saying inappropriate things about somebody else, rather than being the target.
Teach your child to be careful to only befriend and communicate with trusted people that they know. Tell them that revealing personal details such as date of birth, address, pet’s name or teacher could give someone all the information they need to know to harm them. Teach them not to click on links or downloads from sites they have linked to.
Teach them about safe use of passwords and other login details. It’s very commonplace for children’s pages to be hacked into, their profiles being changed either for fun or maliciously, or harmful comments to be posted by someone else in their name. This can also happen if they leave their computer or mobile device on and walk away from it without logging off the site.
Above all, assure them that it’s OK to come to you or another trusted adult if they feel threatened by or uncomfortable about something they have seen or done on a social networking site.