As a parent, have you ever looked back at a situation and thought “wow, I wish I’d handled that better” or “if only I’d been a bit more prepared, I probably wouldn’t be needing to put out this ‘fire’ right now”?
For some, the word “social media” has become as difficult a conversation as the one that follows after the dreaded question “where do babies come from?”.
This fear has kept some families from having honest, open conversation about social media and not having a family agreement or set of ground rules around the use of social media. This can lead to bigger problems in the futures and put kids in a situation where they’re accessing social media on their own with little to no guidance from a trusted adult.
Setting up ground-rules for social media in advance can save a lot of heartache later. Not only does it set kids up for success because they know what’s expected of them ahead of time, but it also provides an opportunity to engage your children in the decision-making process (with you still being the final authority on the decision, of course).
Here are some tips to get you started:
- When beginning a conversation, ask your kids what they already know about social media
- Ask your kids what they’re planning on doing with their account and how they’re hoping to use it (and how often!)
- Ask them what they think they’d like about it and what they’re most worried about
This last question leads well into brainstorms things they should not be doing do on social media as well as “what can you do if somebody sees or shares something you didn’t want them to?” and “what can you do if someone is bothering you or being mean to you?”. Want to learn more about bullying, cyberbullying and the law? Check out the RCMP link or talk to a local RCMP officer.
Now is a good time to create a family agreement or set of ground rules. Here are some ideas:
- I will only follow people I know personally
- I will always show an adult any message or post that makes me feel uncomfortable or threatened (as a parent, now is a good time to prepare for how you might react to this situation to be sure to keep the door to dialogue always open)
- I will never share any personal information about myself, such as my age, where I live, and where I go to school
- I will keep my whereabouts to myself: I will turn off any location settings that tell people exactly where I am or where a photograph was taken
- I will practice the golden rule and always treat others as I would like to be treated. I will T.H.I.N.K. before I leave a comment or send a message: is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?
As parents, this is a good reminder to us and the position we have as role models for our children.
Want to know more about how to keep your kids safe online? Check out protectkidsonline.ca. This site regularly gleans information from Cybertip.ca to help parents stay informed about age-specific interests of young people, the risks they face online, and proactive strategies for helping to make their child’s online experiences safer.
Zoe and Molly Online is an interactive series for kids ages 8-10 years old. This series gives opportunities to have some fun exploring what it means to be safe while playing games online. All the components of the Zoe & Molly Online program, including comics, an interactive game, and online safety quiz, provide an engaging learning experience for children.
If you want to learn more about online safety, check out the Canadian Centre for Child Protection at protectchildren.ca.
For Kids Help Phone text CONNECT to 686868 to chat with a volunteer Crisis Responder 24/7.
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