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You may need to talk about social media to your child earlier than you think

online safety children

Ok, I am sure you have thought about it!

You have even said it OUT LOUD.

The word you swore that you will never say.

In all honestly you don’t even believe it! Not fully. But you had numerous thoughts about it.

It goes something like this :

NEVER will my child have social media! 

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The truth is, that is when your child could be making mistakes online

 

When I was a young girl I remember lying to my parents and sneaking out of the house. I went out with my best friend for a movie and decided to cycle back home in the rain. When we got back home we were soaking wet, laughing and talking while staring directly into my mother’s eyes. 

 

My heart skipped a beat at that moment when I was caught lying to her. That is the moment you know you have done something wrong and cannot get away with it.

 

After a few scoldings, my Mum sat me down and explained to me the dangers of going out without informing anyone at home. She assumed that I was smarter and knew better.  I was generally a good kid with nice friends and respectful to adults. But here she is talking to me about ‘sneaking out’

 

As a child we all make mistakes but we learn from those mistakes and hopefully never repeat them. We cannot assume that “my child will never do that”.  We need to teach our children instead of assuming that they understand things by themselves.

It is the same with social media

My 10 month old baby some how understands that when Youtube is switched on ‘Little Baby Bum’ will soon start. Kids seem to be born tech savy, knowing how to play games on Ipads before even knowing how to read a full sentence.

 

I think they are lucky to have amazing tools in their hands and they can make a big difference in this world. Only when they know how to utilise technology in the right way.

 

This is true for 2 reasons:

Firstly, existing online is just a way of life. By the time my daughter grows up she needs to be tech savy for school and work opportunities.

 

Secondly, social media could be the way kids connect and form relationships in the future.

I believe my job as a parent is to teach my child how to do this responsibly

Like how I grew up making mistakes, I believe my daughter will make a mistake while using technology. It is just part of the learning curve.

 

We need to have regular conversations with our kids about the things they say and post online.

 

Show them what inappropriate comments look like and what good comments are like. Have a discussion about what is okay to post and what is not.

 

It is easier growing up without a smartphone because when a friend does something you don’t like you can ignore it and get on with your day. You can always call your friend or talk to them directly about the issue. But our kids are constantly being followed by messages that bothers them through their mobile phone. They cannot run or hide from it.  If they are in a bad mood they can post, text, or comment without thinking twice.

This can be an expensive mistake even for the nicest kid

 

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It is difficult for a child to make a mistake without the world knowing in seconds. Social media have made it hard for them to just take a moment and think about their actions.

 

We need to teach them to take a deep breath before clicking on the post button. The same way we teach them to think before they raise their voice on us, the elders, friends or teachers. 

 

Remind them not every aspect of their life need to be shared. 

 

Not every status need to be commented. 

 

Not every moment need to be photographed. 

We need to let them know that it is okay to take a break and walk away from it all 

Finally, we need to teach them how to come back from a mistake and appologise

Even the most tech savy parents will find it hard to know everything their child is doing online and offline.

Photos can be hidden

Text messages can be deleted

Search can be cleared

 

We can’t assume that just because we have parental control in place and we regularly check their phones, that we do not need to talk to them about being smart and kind online.  We cannot parent like we are waiting to catch them to do something wrong because that is hard to do. Instead we can guide them to use the devices they have responsibly.

Here are other tips to you keep children safe in the digital age : 

Instagram : 3 Instagram safety tips for parents

Google : Stop Google from tracking you and your kids every movement

Facebook  : Is it safe for your child to have Facebook facial recognition switched one

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