If we were to describe a notion of modern family, we would have to mention regular talks with children on behavior and safety indoors, outdoors, and also on the Internet.
Discussing Internet safety, we place emphasis on communication and overall behavior on social networks. We obviously friend our children on Facebook to keep an eye on them. But a recent report by Pew Research Center clearly shows that while 81 percent of teenagers aged 12-17 have profiles on social media giants, they tend to actually communicate on newer networks where their parents will not follow their every move. In this pursuit of freedom and privacy, teens may overlook potential bullying and other online dangers. And thus, it is essential that parents stay informed of where and why their children go and socialize on the Internet.
Privacy Settings on Social Networks
Setting up a profile is the first step kids take on any social site, and reviewing this profile should become the first step their parents take in response. The rule of thumb here is the less information you put, the safer it is. Such innocent things as your pet's name, email address, phone number, relationship status are sensitive information, and thus are better to be left out.
It should become parents' responsibility to explain what happens if a piece of information falls into the wrong hands, clarify the danger of identity theft, scams, and other possible cyber crimes, which can harm the entire family and friends. Take time to help your teenage child change privacy settings of the social media profiles, limit visibility of posts and photos to friends only. Explain, that 'friends of friends' on the Internet are basically complete strangers, and thus shouldn't be privy to your personal life.
The Perils of 'Over- Sharing'
Letting the whole world know that you are somehow vulnerable at this particular moment may bear undesirable consequences. 'home alone again' or 'Off to a longed-for vacation for a week' may get much likes and reactions from your friends. But to depraved criminals, they are straightforward calls to action, meaning 'there is no one to protect me' and 'My home is unattended'. As those scenarios may not be apparent to your kids, try to go through all the possible outcomes of such innocuous actions as sharing a cell-phone number in a comment, or posting a pic of your family away from home.
Once Posted, It Gets to Live Forever
Snide posts, cutting remarks, and kinky comments are a part of a teenage drama in both real life and online. And while you can grow up and forget your shameful deeds, the record of them on the Internet will stay forever. Parents should make it clear, that pressing 'delete' does not actually remove the information from the Internet, but simply hides it. Once posted, a pic or comment gets to live forever online. So, your child should think twice before posting a comment, video, or a picture, and treat others online with the same courtesy as offline.
Going Online from a Mobile Device
Keep in mind, that once your kid gets a cell phone or tablet, he or she will go online on this handheld gadget rather that on a home computer. Some strict rules about using social media platforms should be established right away. Parents should be respectful of their children privacy and make sure there is mutual trust. So that whenever something harmful crops up children can seek your support. If you see your young ones switching to some new and unfamiliar social media, don't hesitate to ask whether it is due to unwelcoming community, bullying, or any other alarming reasons. Help your child prevent the recurrent conflicts if any.
Top Priority For Parents
In a society where most of communication and interactions take place on the Internet, we face a new challenging aspect of parenting. That is providing online safety for our kids. Illustrate clearly which actions online are safe and which are potentially harmful. Make sure your child stays connected to you on all the social networks he or she uses. Be awake to your parenting responsibilities when a new social media launches. Considering an accelerating speed the technology takes, be proactive and install some parental control software to help you monitor your teen's online behavior. Keeping a watchful eye on your child is a key to your family welfare.