Teaching Kids to Be Smart About Social Media
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Most teens use some form of social media and have a profile on a social networking site. Many visit these sites every day.
There are plenty of good things about social media — but also many risks and things kids and teens should avoid. They don't always make good choices when they post something to a site, and this can lead to problems.
So it's important to talk with your kids about how to use social media wisely.
What's Good About Social Media
Social media can help kids:
- stay connected with friends and family
- volunteer or get involved with a campaign, nonprofit, or charity
- enhance their creativity by sharing ideas, music, and art
- meet and interact with others who share similar interests
- communicate with educators and fellow students
What's Bad About Social Media
The flipside is that social media can be a hub for things like cyberbullying and questionable activities. Without meaning to, kids can share more online than they should.
- post photos of themselves online or use their real names on their profiles
- reveal their birthdates and interests
- post their school name and the town where they live
This can make them easy targets for online predators and others who might mean them harm.
What Can Parents Do?
It's important to be aware of what your kids do online. But snooping can alienate them and damage the trust you've built together. The key is to stay involved in a way that makes your kids understand that you respect their privacy but want to make sure they're safe.
Tell your kids that it's important to:
- Be nice. Mean behavior is not OK. Make it clear that you expect your kids to treat others with respect, and to never post hurtful or embarrassing messages.
- Think twice before hitting "enter." Remind teens that what they post can be used against them. For example, letting the world know that you're off on vacation or posting your home address gives would-be robbers a chance to strike.
- Follow the "WWGS?" (What Would Grandma Say?) rule. Teach kids not to share anything on social media that they wouldn't want their teachers, college admissions officers, future bosses — and yes, grandma — to see.
- Use privacy settings. Privacy settings are important. Go through them together to make sure your kids understand each one. Also, explain that passwords are there to protect them against things like identity theft. They should never share them with anyone, even a boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend.
- Don't "friend" strangers. "If you don't know them, don't friend them." This is a plain, simple — and safe — rule of thumb.
source: Nemours Kids Health
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