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Category: Social Media Safety

Should You Interact with Your Child on Social Media?

Mom's online with kids

Social media is an integral part of our lives these days, and that’s doubly true for kids growing up in a post-Facebook world. Since parents and children are often on the same social platforms, it may seem natural to follow your child and interact. Is it a good idea though? The topic is more complex than it seems.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Answer

Like so many other issues around parenting, this is a case where every family and child is different. What works for one may not work for another. Family dynamics and the needs of individual kids should dictate the best way to approach social media use. The important thing is to understand that these apps are likely a big part of your child’s social life and that boundaries should be respected—both yours as a parent, as well as your child’s.

Here are three tips to help you navigate the often-murky waters of online interactions with your kids.

1. Have a Frank Discussion About Social Media Boundaries

There’s often no better way to answer these tough questions than just being direct and asking. The reality is that for some kids, having parents involved in their lives is normal, while for others, it’s an embarrassment.

In either case, you should have a talk about appropriate use of social media, information privacy and security, and being safe online so that even if your kids don’t want much interaction, you can help them be smart about what they do on the internet. Even if you don’t interact with them on social media, you can still set and enforce rules for safe web use.

2. Determine If Interactions Would Seem Out of Place

Facebook and even Twitter aren’t the most popular social platforms for teens and kids anymore. Many now spend their time on Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms. So pay attention to which platforms your kids use and how they use them

If you already have accounts on the same platforms that you use on a regular basis, following and interacting with your child may make sense; if you don’t, though, you run the risk of misusing the platform and potentially embarrassing your kid—to the extent that it could cause them to migrate to other platforms or adjust settings so you can’t see as much of their activity.

3. Decide Where Your Motivation Lies

Another way to determine whether you should interact directly with your child on social media is to honestly examine your motives. If you’re only trying to police your child’s activities, you may be wasting your time; it’s relatively easy for kids to adjust privacy settings to control what you can see. It’s also not uncommon for kids to have multiple profiles, with only one visible to family.

If your family already has a trusting, open relationship with one another, it might feel natural and fine for you to interact with them in online spaces. If there’s less trust, though, getting a social media account just to monitor your children or teens could further hurt that relationship. Kids are smarter than many give them credit for—they’ll know if you’re trying to be sneaky.

Boundaries on social media may seem murky to parents, but for kids who’ve had access to these platforms their whole lives, they are often very clear. Navigating this online world as parents takes finesse, openness, and a willingness to learn. Because in the end, the most important thing is that your kids are safe and happy.

Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate. You can find more of her work at https://hilarybird.contently.com/.

Social media is an integral part of our lives these days, and that’s doubly true for kids growing up in a post-Facebook world. Since parents and children are often on the same social platforms, it may seem natural to follow your child and interact. Is it a good idea though? The topic is more complex than it seems.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Answer

Like so many other issues around parenting, this is a case where every family and child is different. What works for one may not work for another. Family dynamics and the needs of individual kids should dictate the best way to approach social media use. The important thing is to understand that these apps are likely a big part of your child’s social life and that boundaries should be respected—both yours as a parent, as well as your child’s.

Here are three tips to help you navigate the often-murky waters of online interactions with your kids.

1. Have a Frank Discussion About Social Media Boundaries

There’s often no better way to answer these tough questions than just being direct and asking. The reality is that for some kids, having parents involved in their lives is normal, while for others, it’s an embarrassment.

In either case, you should have a talk about appropriate use of social media, information privacy and security, and being safe online so that even if your kids don’t want much interaction, you can help them be smart about what they do on the internet. Even if you don’t interact with them on social media, you can still set and enforce rules for safe web use.

2. Determine If Interactions Would Seem Out of Place

Facebook and even Twitter aren’t the most popular social platforms for teens and kids anymore. Many now spend their time on Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms. So pay attention to which platforms your kids use and how they use them

If you already have accounts on the same platforms that you use on a regular basis, following and interacting with your child may make sense; if you don’t, though, you run the risk of misusing the platform and potentially embarrassing your kid—to the extent that it could cause them to migrate to other platforms or adjust settings so you can’t see as much of their activity.

3. Decide Where Your Motivation Lies

Another way to determine whether you should interact directly with your child on social media is to honestly examine your motives. If you’re only trying to police your child’s activities, you may be wasting your time; it’s relatively easy for kids to adjust privacy settings to control what you can see. It’s also not uncommon for kids to have multiple profiles, with only one visible to family.

If your family already has a trusting, open relationship with one another, it might feel natural and fine for you to interact with them in online spaces. If there’s less trust, though, getting a social media account just to monitor your children or teens could further hurt that relationship. Kids are smarter than many give them credit for—they’ll know if you’re trying to be sneaky.

Boundaries on social media may seem murky to parents, but for kids who’ve had access to these platforms their whole lives, they are often very clear. Navigating this online world as parents takes finesse, openness, and a willingness to learn. Because in the end, the most important thing is that your kids are safe and happy.

Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate. You can find more of her work at https://hilarybird.contently.com/.

Why Adults are Dumping Social Media

You love your computer. You enjoy playing games online. Maybe your Dad lets you post messages to your cousins using his social media page. You can’t wait until you get your own social media account. Don’t hold your breath. By the time you are old enough, social media won’t be the same!

In the last few weeks, people have become very angry with Facebook. upset. Facebook took personal details about their lives and sold those details to make money. For many people, selling their information was an invasion of privacy. Imagine someone you don’t know sneaking into your bedroom and picking through your dresser drawers. That’s what many adults thought it felt like.

So many people were mad at Facebook that they closed and deleted their pages. Steve Wozniak, one of the men who started the company that makes Apple computers and iPhone, deleted his Facebook account. So did Elon Musk, the tech whiz who just launched a car into space. And so did Will Ferrell, the actor who played the main character in the Christmas movie ELF.

More importantly, almost 3 million young adults under the age of 25 stopped using Facebook. These people didn’t like their private information being used to make money for a gigantic company.

Most of the time, when your personal information is sold, it is used to try to sell you something or to sell something to your Facebook friends. This may not seem all that bad, but it means that all the facts of your life online are being examined by strangers. These strangers don’t care about you or your friends. They do care about making money. You are just how they make that money.

Another problem adults have with Facebook is that their information can be used to steal their identity. Identity theft is when someone takes another person’s personal details and applies for things like credit cards, bank accounts and money from the government. Identity thieves sometimes use the stolen identity to get mobile phone accounts and run up huge bills. They even steal the identity of little kids.

Many of those victims don’t know that their identities have been stolen because most little kids don’t apply for credit cards or file tax returns or any of the other things that alert people to identity theft. When the child grows up and does apply for a credit card, he or she may discover that they owe money all over the world. This can happen when private information is used by thieves. This is another reason that many adults are leaving Facebook.

Millions of people around the world are deciding that Facebook doesn’t make their lives better. In some cases, Facebook makes their lives worse. Many still like seeing what other people are doing and like being “liked.” What about you?

You love your computer. You enjoy playing games online. Maybe your Dad lets you post messages to your cousins using his social media page. You can’t wait until you get your own social media account. Don’t hold your breath. By the time you are old enough, social media won’t be the same!

In the last few weeks, people have become very angry with Facebook. upset. Facebook took personal details about their lives and sold those details to make money. For many people, selling their information was an invasion of privacy. Imagine someone you don’t know sneaking into your bedroom and picking through your dresser drawers. That’s what many adults thought it felt like.

So many people were mad at Facebook that they closed and deleted their pages. Steve Wozniak, one of the men who started the company that makes Apple computers and iPhone, deleted his Facebook account. So did Elon Musk, the tech whiz who just launched a car into space. And so did Will Ferrell, the actor who played the main character in the Christmas movie ELF.

More importantly, almost 3 million young adults under the age of 25 stopped using Facebook. These people didn’t like their private information being used to make money for a gigantic company.

Most of the time, when your personal information is sold, it is used to try to sell you something or to sell something to your Facebook friends. This may not seem all that bad, but it means that all the facts of your life online are being examined by strangers. These strangers don’t care about you or your friends. They do care about making money. You are just how they make that money.

Another problem adults have with Facebook is that their information can be used to steal their identity. Identity theft is when someone takes another person’s personal details and applies for things like credit cards, bank accounts and money from the government. Identity thieves sometimes use the stolen identity to get mobile phone accounts and run up huge bills. They even steal the identity of little kids.

Many of those victims don’t know that their identities have been stolen because most little kids don’t apply for credit cards or file tax returns or any of the other things that alert people to identity theft. When the child grows up and does apply for a credit card, he or she may discover that they owe money all over the world. This can happen when private information is used by thieves. This is another reason that many adults are leaving Facebook.

Millions of people around the world are deciding that Facebook doesn’t make their lives better. In some cases, Facebook makes their lives worse. Many still like seeing what other people are doing and like being “liked.” What about you?

Social Media Manners

For many, the idea of “good manners” conjures up images of someone wagging a finger at you. Etiquette is simply being thoughtful of others. Good manners on social media means taking a moment to think before you hit that post icon.

It means looking at what you do online as if you are someone else and realizing how your actions and words look to others.

Manners are not about being fake or sucking up. Manners are about adding to the online world without shutting people down and cutting off communication.

It also is about protecting YOU.

While media manners are always evolving as online behavior and options arise, these are basic guidelines to help you and your followers get along and benefit from the amazing methods of communications available today:

  • Never post a picture of someone else without permission. Not only is this rude, it is spreading another person’s image or personal information (for example, that they were at a party in your backyard on a certain date). Always get permission and if the person says no, respect his or her decision.
  • Further to the first rule – NEVER tag a person without their consent.
  • Never post when you are angry. To do so makes you look stupid or thoughtless. It also can inflict damage on people because your view may not take into consideration of the circumstances from that person’s point of view. When another person’s actions bother you, the better response is to talk to that person face-to-face or in a private message. You will probably find that you and the person who made you angry are not as different or as conflicted as you think.

Ever heard of the 24 hour rule? While it may make you feel better to write down your initial feelings when you are angry, don’t post your thoughts until you sleep on it. Take some time to cool off. This way, you won’t communicate something in the heat of the moment that you will regret later.

  • If you change your relationship status, let any other involved person know first. You and Rahim or Rachel are on the outs. But before you make a post in front of the whole world, contact Rahim or Rachel and explain your thoughts. Who knows? You might even repair any damage from the spat before it becomes locked in time forever on the Internet.
  • Be careful with CAPS! There are times when choice words emphasized by capital letters helps make your point. To put a whole statement in caps implies that you are yelling with nothing standing out. If everything is in caps, nothing is emphasized.
  • When video chatting or posting a video, make sure that there is nothing creepy or rude behind you. Imagine someone chatting with you in front of a poster that a bit raunchy or somewhat violent looking. Such creepy images not only make what you say seem ridiculous, they will come back to haunt you when you apply for a job or want to make new friends.

Make your own list of good manner and share with your friends. The more we respect the thoughts of other people, the better we can make life on line rewarding for all.

For many, the idea of “good manners” conjures up images of someone wagging a finger at you. Etiquette is simply being thoughtful of others. Good manners on social media means taking a moment to think before you hit that post icon.

It means looking at what you do online as if you are someone else and realizing how your actions and words look to others.

Manners are not about being fake or sucking up. Manners are about adding to the online world without shutting people down and cutting off communication.

It also is about protecting YOU.

While media manners are always evolving as online behavior and options arise, these are basic guidelines to help you and your followers get along and benefit from the amazing methods of communications available today:

  • Never post a picture of someone else without permission. Not only is this rude, it is spreading another person’s image or personal information (for example, that they were at a party in your backyard on a certain date). Always get permission and if the person says no, respect his or her decision.
  • Further to the first rule – NEVER tag a person without their consent.
  • Never post when you are angry. To do so makes you look stupid or thoughtless. It also can inflict damage on people because your view may not take into consideration of the circumstances from that person’s point of view. When another person’s actions bother you, the better response is to talk to that person face-to-face or in a private message. You will probably find that you and the person who made you angry are not as different or as conflicted as you think.

Ever heard of the 24 hour rule? While it may make you feel better to write down your initial feelings when you are angry, don’t post your thoughts until you sleep on it. Take some time to cool off. This way, you won’t communicate something in the heat of the moment that you will regret later.

  • If you change your relationship status, let any other involved person know first. You and Rahim or Rachel are on the outs. But before you make a post in front of the whole world, contact Rahim or Rachel and explain your thoughts. Who knows? You might even repair any damage from the spat before it becomes locked in time forever on the Internet.
  • Be careful with CAPS! There are times when choice words emphasized by capital letters helps make your point. To put a whole statement in caps implies that you are yelling with nothing standing out. If everything is in caps, nothing is emphasized.
  • When video chatting or posting a video, make sure that there is nothing creepy or rude behind you. Imagine someone chatting with you in front of a poster that a bit raunchy or somewhat violent looking. Such creepy images not only make what you say seem ridiculous, they will come back to haunt you when you apply for a job or want to make new friends.

Make your own list of good manner and share with your friends. The more we respect the thoughts of other people, the better we can make life on line rewarding for all.

How a Town Made A Monster—True Story

Once upon a time, a mom and dad drove their little girl to school. Mom got out to walk the girl to the school door.  Before they got there, Dad remembered something he had forgotten to ask the little girl. He rushed out and ran to the girl and Mom. Mom was upset. She said that they could talk about the question after school.

Dad disagreed and the two had a small argument on the school steps, which was very bad manners. The little girl started walking away. Her dad grabbed her arm and she quickly answered his question before running off to class.

Meanwhile, a woman in the parking lot saw the argument on the steps. She saw the dad grab his daughter’s arm. She went on social media and made a post: “I saw a man grab a little girl today at school. Watch out for your kids.”

Another parent saw the post and shared the post with his friends. They shared the post with their friends. Soon, everyone in the small town was thinking that a man was trying to kidnap their dear children.

Thinking that some evil man lurked near the school, people started seeing monsters everywhere! If a man stopped to drop off a sandwich for his son at recess, people would go online to post: “I saw a man try to grab a little boy.”

When another man ran up to his girl to give her the sweater she had left at home, people would post: “I saw the bad guy.” And all those posts bounced from cell phone to cell phone.

Before long, people went to the police and reported that a man was trying to steal kids from school. The story reached news reporters. A major television station reported that a man was stalking school kids. The stern announcer warned thousands of people to be on the lookout for this monster.

The police immediately started investigating. They interviewed many of the people who posted sightings of the evil man. The police talked to kids and their parents.

Then they made an official announcement: Nothing had happened. No one was trying to snatch children.

Hundreds of posts and reposts warned of a bad man, but none of the reports were true. No evil monster was trying to grab children from school. The monster was made up by too many people posting false details on social media.

Soon, the panic faded. People forgot about the evil man—and they did not seem to understand that they were the ones who made the monster.

This event really happened in Alberta, Canada, June, 2011.

Once upon a time, a mom and dad drove their little girl to school. Mom got out to walk the girl to the school door.  Before they got there, Dad remembered something he had forgotten to ask the little girl. He rushed out and ran to the girl and Mom. Mom was upset. She said that they could talk about the question after school.

Dad disagreed and the two had a small argument on the school steps, which was very bad manners. The little girl started walking away. Her dad grabbed her arm and she quickly answered his question before running off to class.

Meanwhile, a woman in the parking lot saw the argument on the steps. She saw the dad grab his daughter’s arm. She went on social media and made a post: “I saw a man grab a little girl today at school. Watch out for your kids.”

Another parent saw the post and shared the post with his friends. They shared the post with their friends. Soon, everyone in the small town was thinking that a man was trying to kidnap their dear children.

Thinking that some evil man lurked near the school, people started seeing monsters everywhere! If a man stopped to drop off a sandwich for his son at recess, people would go online to post: “I saw a man try to grab a little boy.”

When another man ran up to his girl to give her the sweater she had left at home, people would post: “I saw the bad guy.” And all those posts bounced from cell phone to cell phone.

Before long, people went to the police and reported that a man was trying to steal kids from school. The story reached news reporters. A major television station reported that a man was stalking school kids. The stern announcer warned thousands of people to be on the lookout for this monster.

The police immediately started investigating. They interviewed many of the people who posted sightings of the evil man. The police talked to kids and their parents.

Then they made an official announcement: Nothing had happened. No one was trying to snatch children.

Hundreds of posts and reposts warned of a bad man, but none of the reports were true. No evil monster was trying to grab children from school. The monster was made up by too many people posting false details on social media.

Soon, the panic faded. People forgot about the evil man—and they did not seem to understand that they were the ones who made the monster.

This event really happened in Alberta, Canada, June, 2011.

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