Brenda Yoder is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, school counselor, teacher, speaker, author, and a member of Dove’s Nest’s Speaker’s Bureau. She often provides trainings on abuse prevention, trauma, boundaries, parenting, and mental health issues. Brenda’s newest books include Balance, Busyness, and Not Doing It All and Who Do You Say I Am?, a resource for teen girls. She also has a mental health column in her local paper, is a parenting columnist for several online magazines, and is a regular contributor to the Purpose devotional magazine. Her platform as a writer and speaker is Life Beyond the Picket Fence: life, faith, and parenting beyond the storybook image.
This post originally ran on DovesNest.net.
Your children are the first generation with access to technology that opens doors of unlimited possibilities, but also unlimited dangers. Kids are vulnerable to online predators and harassing behavior from peers and adults. As parents, we have to be diligent about teaching social media safety. How can you keep your kids safe?
1. Don’t allow your children to put their phone numbers or address on a social media profile or “check in” at a location.
2. Teach your children to make wise choices over who “friends” or follows them in social media.
3. Control who sees the information your children put on their walls, profiles, or news feeds. Make sure you have the passwords to their accounts and that settings are set for the strictest privacy from the general public.
4. Monitor unwanted, harassing posts or messages on social media. Teach your kids to control what they will read or accept. Block a person if necessary.
5. Allow young children to use the Internet on a tablet, phone, or computer only in places with adult supervision. Regarding smart phones, consider at what age you think they are capable of having safe, unsupervised access to the Internet. Consider this recent article on the dangers of smartphones and younger teens.
6. Be on the same social media venues your kids are. Know how the venues work, and require that your children allow you to follow or friend them.
7. Teach your children to not send pictures they wouldn’t feel comfortable showing to you. Pictures can remain forever in cyberspace even after the original is deleted, including Snapchat images; all it takes is someone taking a screenshot.
8. Teach your children to not say anything in a text or message they wouldn’t say to someone face-to-face. Once it’s written, there’s proof of harassing or inappropriate words.
9. Be aware of the pros and cons of GPS tracking on smart phones. You may know where your children are with a GPS feature, but so do other people they’re connected to on social media. Sex offenders usually aren’t the creepy guy on the street corner, but rather someone who knows your child. GPS enabling opens up doors for grooming by sexual predators.
10. Communicate with your children about cyber relationships. Know whom your kids are friends with online just like you do with their “real-time” friends.