Teaching Kids to Be Smart About Social Media

The lure is magnetic. So many parents want to teach their kids to be wise about social media use. Too many young teenagers spend hours browsing, chatting, and even scrolling up and down on their social profiles every single day. It’s hard to believe that this type of overuse even constitutes a generation of youth, but it is true. Today’s youth are using social networks for sex offender searches, terrorist threats, and countless other reasons not to school.

However, the good news is that it isn’t all bad. Teaching kids to be wise about social networks really does have a silver lining. If we as a society can find a way to instill in our teens that there is a real cost to using these sites, then it will be easier to get them to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, most teenagers see the world through a distorted filter, and the only way we can effect change in their thought process is to show them the consequence of what they’re doing. This type of education doesn’t come around very often, and in order to make such an impact, you have to provide something much more powerful than another television or video game.

The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to start teaching kids to be smart about social media use before they even start to surf the web. Just like computers and electronics, social networking is a rapidly advancing technology. We’ve seen improvements in this field since the early days of Facebook and MySpace. Now, however, computers and phones can connect to social networking sites just as easily as we do.

So what should you be teaching kids to be smart about social media? There are actually several different things to keep in mind. At the end of the day, you want your child to use social networking sites in order to meet people, not to cause trouble or lose friends. Let’s look at each one of these key points one at a time.

First, we must consider the actual technology at work here. Today’s phones and computers can synch with social networking sites just as easily as they can if you had a PC at home. If you want to teach your kids to be smart about social media, you need to start teaching them that using sites like Facebook and MySpace are just as safe. You may have heard reports of predators preying on children, but today’s cyberspace has it down to a science: there is no real danger to kids using social networking sites. Unfortunately, there are still some creeps out there that will use this site to preys upon unsuspecting kids.

Second, the way that teenagers communicate on the web today has a lot to do with teaching kids to be smart about social media, because many teenagers think that it is cool to cyberbullies or send obscene messages. However, there are ways to report cyberbullying and other types of cyber harassment. In fact, there are so many ways to address cyberbullying that it would be impossible to mention them all here.

Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your kids understand the privacy settings on their social media accounts. They need to know how to adjust the privacy settings on their accounts because every single post they make online is recorded and stored somewhere. If those posts contain personal information, such as addresses and phone numbers, it could be dangerous for them to leave those settings on. Additionally, when your kids understand that they have to turn off these features before they can see any posts online, they’ll be more likely to use the features whenever they want without worrying about their privacy settings. Teach your kids to respect their privacy settings, and they’ll be much happier when they’re online. Also, make sure that they understand that their messages aren’t broadcast to everyone in their network, so they won’t get accused of cyberbullying just because they’re talking to their friends.

The last thing that you need to teach your kids about social media is respect for the privacy settings on the different social networking accounts that they use. If they understand that they have to turn off these features when they’re on a site, they won’t waste their time chatting with people who don’t care about their safety. Additionally, your kids understand that they can report offensive or inappropriate messages to the managers of the site, so they can get it taken care of appropriately. Remember, there’s more to online security than simply turning off the Facebook and Twitter features when they go online, and teaching your kids about online etiquette goes a long way in making sure that they remain safe while they’re online. It’s well worth the effort, and it can protect them from many dangers that they might encounter in the real world.

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