Following on from this article https://www.signal1.co.uk/news/local/online-sexual-abuse-against-children-on-the-increase-in-staffordshire/ about the the increase of online sexual abuse against children in Staffordshire, and hearing lots of comments from the young people I work with who in some cases have thousands of friends, hundreds of views, and comments across various social media platforms.
It got me thinking about the actions that I take as a parent to try and help my daughter to make sensible use of social media. The set up that we have with her, despite it at times making me her public enemy number 1 works really well.
So I thought I would share some tips that parents can use to ensure their children stay safe online.
1) Accept it – Social Media is here to stay and is a way of life for young people now, it can have huge benefits when used the right way and conversations with your children about it and how they use it, can go a long way.
2) Keep it Private – it’s a simple one but effective, make sure whichever social media platform your child is using they have set their profile to private.
3) If you don’t know them, don’t show them – Encourage your children to adopt this approach. If the request comes from somebody you have never spoken to or spent time with then reject their requests.
4) Build friendships not friend lists – ask your child how many friends they have on their platforms, if the number is in its high hundreds or thousands, a conversation around who these people are is needed.
5) Post to Share not to be liked – It’s important that young people still feel they can express themselves the way they want to. Encourage them to always think before they post, why do they like the picture so much and need to share it. That way If they like it, that’s all that matters and hundreds of likes shouldn’t make a difference.
6) Parental Controls – This is a great way to keep a closer eye on your child’s activity on their phone, it is no way intrusive but it allows parents to monitor things like the apps that they want to download and put restrictions in place on the content that they are able to view. It’s better to talk this through with your child especially teens, rather than just putting it on there without them understanding why.
7) Screen Time – This is a fantastic feature for parents and one that allows you to ensure that your child is not spending too much time on their social media. You can set the times that they are able to use their phone and also set the amount of time that they can spend in certain apps per day.
Once the time restriction is in place or they have used their allowance in a certain app then they have to request more time from you, which you can grant them from your own device.
You can access reports of which apps they are using each day/week. Monitor the hours they are using their smart phone.
“We had a year 11 student who had spent 47 hours on snapchat in a week and was behind on his studies and lacking ideas what to do about it.”
Screen time can put a stop to that. I have to add using this feature may not leave your child best pleased BUT if you talk it through and allow some flexibility it can work to everybody’s advantage.