Parenting Tips | Social Media & Internet Security

Posted Nov 20th, 2015 in Success Stories, Social Media, Meetings, Workshops & Presentations

Internet Security for Parents BlogParents are being proactive in their discussion on social Media, internet security & cyberbullying, but is that enough? At a recent presentation I did at an elementary school in Niagara (Ontario), I shared some social media and internet security tips.  Parents are eager to learn, but the challenge is always how to keep up.

Digital communications are something many adults engage with on a regular basis. However, the challenge is the continuous learning needed to stay up-to-date to understand how to keep our children safe when on the internet and how to to help them develop good usage habits.

We remember the days when we had to wait until our brother or sister got off the phone so we could call a friend, or had to get up to change the channel on the TV, or browsed through encyclopedias when we had a project due for school. For our children, online communication through Social Media, texting, and Video Game consuls are the norm.  They have access to their friends 24/7 (if allowed) with their mobile phones, and anything they want to learn, they just Google it.

How as parents do we keep up with the technology?  What are the risks to online communications?  How do we manage cyberbullying?  What can we do to protect them? 

As a parent myself, I continue to ask these questions and seek answers.   But the more answers I find, the more questions are out there.  Digital technology is evolving at a tremendous rate with no hint of slowing down.  Digital communications are here to stay and we must keep our children safe.  We must be vigilant in our learning and teaching them the skills and guidelines they need to be responsible adults ‘in-training’. As they grow and become more independent, we must teach them the guiding principals and disciplines to help them make safe, wise & respectful decisions on their own.

The information found for this presentation was taken from many articles and resources I found online, as well as my expertise in the area of Public Relations and Social Media.  But I must say, , and the passion I have for this subject, and the personal experiences I was able to share, is because I am a parent of 2 teenage children.  I’ve seen them grow up with social media, the internet, and video games.  Security, privacy and respect for others is an ongoing conversation in our family.  There are so many things to learn and be aware of, but discussions like we had at this parent meeting, showed how we as parents can be proactive in sharing and learning how to manage a safe and secure online experience for our families.

Internet & Social Media Safety Tips for Parents

1. Teach your children to beware of strangers bearing gifts

Do you remember the ’Stranger-danger’ lessons we learned as children? Do not accept candy or gifts from people you don’t know. Do not talk to strangers. Do not go anywhere with a stranger,  These lessons are still very important for our children, but now the discussions we must have with our children, needs to include warning them about strangers that lurk in the very ‘real’ virtual world of the internet.  Because we can’t see them in bodily form, sometimes explaining what those strangers ‘look’ like, and what kind of gifts they bear, can be a hard message to get across.   Strangers can more easily be disguised in the virtual world, so we as parents need to be vigilant.

2. If you don’t do it face-to-face, don’t do it online

Social Media is an amplifying tool.  It can be used to spread the good news and accolades of others; to encourage, endorse, and share good news!  Or it can be used to bring down, or destroy the spirits of others.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a lesson we all remember being taught as children.  This cannot be a more powerful lesson to teach our children in the age of social media, where we are instantly connected to so many people.  Warn our children that they cannot hide behind the perceived barrier of communication platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.  Cyberbullying is a very serious concern for our children. See the links below to learn more about the serious legal consequences that everyone, including our children, are responsible to under the new cyberbullying legislation. 

3. Once you post it, it is out there… PERMANENTLY!

Before you press the POST or SEND button, remember that the words, photos, and videos will be permanently out-there in ‘cyber-space’.  Children are quite young when they start on Social Media, and often younger than the recommended ages that social networks put in place (YouTube is 13 years of age or older).  Make sure to monitor your children’s activities online and teach them what they need to know about posting responsibly.  Get them to think twice before they post anything. 

4. Have a set of questions that you encourage them to think through every time they post, so that when they are old enough to do it on their own, it will be second nature to them.   

  • Are the words encouraging or uplifting to others?
  • Do I have permission to post these photos or videos?
  • Is there anything private in this message or image that may expose/harm myself or others?
  • Who will be able to see or share this?

There may be others that you come up with as parents, but remember:  What your child posts on the internet or social media can impact their lives for many years to come.

More Tips included in the Social Media & Internet Security Presentation | Parenting Tips | Nov. 2015

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