Originally Posted March 30, 2017
Social media is just a part of our lives now (for the most of us, anyway). We use it to run our businesses, we use it to connect with family, and we use it to get in touch with friends. And children are using social media, too. In the form of everything; from Twitter to Snapchat, to Musical.ly.
But we cannot just let kids roam around on social media. We need to teach them how. Here are a few tips on how to teach your kids to be smart, and savvy, on social media.
1) Do NOT Allow Your Children to Have Social Media Accounts if They’re Not Thirteen
This is illegal in most cases, believe it or not. Some social media platforms, such as the deceased Vine or What’sApp, require that your children are at least 16 or 17 years of age before joining them. This is for protective purposes. For example, Twitter says that if parents become aware that their child under 13 has started an account, that they should inform Twitter right away so that the company can terminate the account.
This is this way for a number of reasons. One is safety, as many internet trolls roam around the internet, wanting to harm your kids with words. But also because of online predators who wish to do more than just bother your children.
This is also for security reasons. Places like Twitter and Facebook are free services because they take your information and basically sell them to advertising companies. They know your internet history, and what you’re interested in, and what your age (if you told them the truth), gender, race, and so on is. They use all of this information to sell you products, but here’s the thing:
They aren’t allowed to take this information from children under the age of thirteen.
2) Remind and Teach Your Children to Not Be a Bully Themselves
A lot of heated debate takes place on all forms of social media. These debates range anywhere from “who’s the best character on the Justice League” to politics. It’s very easy for anyone, but especially for unexperienced children, to get caught up in these debates and get themselves, or someone else, hurt. Mean words often come out, and so do bad names.
Encourage your kids to stay away from public forums and comments under YouTube videos. Though sometimes comments can be engaging, discussion worthy, and educational, many times they are just filled with hate and people who are trying to seek attention. These people just want you or your children to respond so that they can feel better about themselves, and the last thing you want is for your kids to fall into this bad spiral.
If your kids do see a comment or a forum with something that they don’t agree with, and they feel the urge to yell at users across the web, teach them to discuss it with you. Teach them to go to you, as the parent, first before they respond. Maybe they’ll decide it’s best not to respond at all. Teach them to reason on the situation, instead of react to the situation.
3) Teach Them the Difference Between a Real E-Mail and a Fake, Phishing E-Mail
This applies to many social media posts as well. Many times there are key differences between a real email from a company and a fake one from someone pretending to be a company.
As an example, many fake Google emails will appear to have an old version of the Google logo located at the top of the email, rather than Google’s current logo.
REAL GOOGLE EMAIL I’VE RECIEVED
EXAMPLE OF FAKE GOOGLE EMAIL
Furthermore, if someone your children follow on social media suddenly starts to post advertising out of nowhere, and these posts have suspicious looking URLs tagged with them, they are more likely phishing posts, and that user has most likely been hacked.
These posts and emails steal information, try to sell you services you don’t need, or may even install viruses onto your computer. Teaching your kids how to be shrewd, and how to avoid these, will keep them safe, as well as their computer, and their personal information.
There’s of course much more that you need to do in order to teach your kids how to be safe and smart online, but these tips should get you started in the right direction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mariah Loeber is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FemSTEM.com. She studies English and is a huge fan of things STEM. Find her on Twitter.