4 Tips Before You Allow Your Children To Use Social Media

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Author Bio: Upasna Kakroo (@upasnakakroo) is the co-founder of a content marketing and branding startup, brandanew.co. Her previous experiences include- Rocket Internet, the Holtzbrinck Group, McKinsey & Co. She’s devoured urban culture through trains, art, books and travel on her blogs since 2003.

Your children may already be on social media even before they were born. Your baby photographer may have tagged you on Facebook in you pre-baby, post baby and one year birthday shoots plenty number of times. Are you ready for the kids to have their own accounts though?

Given the powerful and viral nature of all social networks, there are inherent risks involved, before you make that decision. As as a parent of a young kid, how do you ensure that they’re not falling pray to internet behavior that may harm them? We recently concluded a research on social media consumer behavior, and some of the learnings were valuable for kids/ students that I’d like to share with the readers here.

1. Social Media Goals Policy

It’s good to discuss social media openly with your kids. Whether they’re two or ten, they most likely already have a  social media presence, through you. According to a US survey, 92% kids have a  digital footprint before the age of two- when they don’t even know what it is. It is important to be open about usage then, and reflect on your shared goals. These could range from connecting with friends, getting news from school, or even building a personal brand for the child (we’ve all seen singing, dancing and creative stars as kids on Facebook and other media). Setting up initial goals is also a great way to share your feelings, build trust with your children around the medium to start off in a good way!

2. Social Media Content & Etiquette

You need to share the importance of identities with your children. This means, not creating fake profiles or using someone else’s images, but being their normal selves while sharing things with friends. Show that getting over-aggressive, fighting or ranting on social media or tagging a thousand people is equal to spamming. There’s also the question of which information they can share or not, and to which audience. Many in India do not pay strong attention to privacy and identity theft, but as the media globalizes world over, it is critical to protect your children against any sort of Internet related issues and concerns. It is also important to keep your kids aware of issues such as: bullying (do they feel bullied or depressed by someone else’s social behavior), trolling (are they indulging in argumentative, inflammatory postings) and catfishing (are they posing as someone they are not?).

3. Social Media Permissions

Stolen images that do not belong to you/your children but are downloaded from Google images are not free information to be shared or plagiarized. If your child is using someone else’s images, they need to seek permissions, or attribute the content piece to them. This can lead to legal issues around copyrights, so it is important to teach the importance of permissions from a young age.

Encourage your children to talk to you about their social media interests and stories to be aware.

4. Social Media Tools

They are plenty of tools and educational games and social apps that you can work with your children on. This can give them ideas to share plenty of useful content with their friends and also be able to improve their general knowledge in a fun way. Some examples include:

  • Wikipedia app for information on all things they question!

  • Dictionary app for new words!

  • Daily art app showcasing great pieces of work by artists

 

There are also interesting tools that parents can use for training kids on social media. Social media expert, Ken Herron, shared this snippet with me, “I was surprised to receive a phone call a few weeks ago from one of our customers, he said that he was using his personal Outbox Pro browser extension to teach his two daughters (ages 8 and 10) social media safety and etiquette. They had been begging him to go on Facebook for months, and that he was really struggling with it, as he knew they were now tech-savvy enough to create their own accounts and not tell him. When he first started using the tool so his clients could approve the posts his team was writing, it hit him that we had also created, if accidentally, the ultimate tool for parents and teachers. Because the author never knows the account’s username and password, and nothing can be posted without approval, it gives him the opportunity to review (and discuss as needed) every single post his girls write, so that they understand what’s good to post and what’s not. And it has the added benefit that his two girls can share the same Facebook account, with both of them posting as much or as little as they want!”

Social media can be a great platform for kids to share and keep in touch with their friends and also use technology to learn new things. But It’s important to be aware of the risks that the medium provides and ensure the kids’ safety as parents. I do hope these tips are of use, and wish for a safe and fun social media journey for all your babies! :)

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