Is social media genuinely harmful to kids? The jury still seems to be out on that one, but it’s hard to deny that social media can be something of a double-edged sword; the extent to which it is beneficial strongly depends on how it is used. Could your own kids run into trouble?
While there are documented risks of social media use, you could help to counter such risks to your own children by taking a few simple steps. Here’s your succinct-but-informative safety guide…
Social media: is it an entirely pretty picture?
When you read occasional scary stories or headlines about how social media has adversely affected children, it’s easy to hit the panic button. Your worries wouldn’t necessarily be ill-founded, either, judging from survey results shared by The Conversation.
In a survey of about 1,000 adults aged over 18 and 150 young people aged from 14 to 17, it was found that two-thirds of the young people felt pressure to look good while almost a third had been bullied online. Meanwhile, about 60% of parents fail to monitor their teen’s social media account.
Fortunately, though, you don’t have to curb your kids’ social media use excessively. Indeed, in the survey, the vast majority of respondents said that their screens and social media accounts contributed positively to their lives. You just need to know where to place the restrictions.
Ask your children how they use social media
This is an obvious step to take, and you can ask them to take you on a tour of their social media exploits, so to say. Invite them to show you the social media channels they visit and what your child posts online. You could also see what sites and other content they have made their favourites.
If you engage yourself in your child’s online world in this way, it will be easier for you to broach difficult subjects, such as that of their digital footprint. Warn your child not to share, on online communities, details which could be used to conclusively identify them.
What if your child is trying to escape you monitoring them?
If you joined Facebook in its early days, you can probably recall how much less cool that particular social media portal suddenly felt once your parents followed you onto it. You might have yearned for more privacy, even if you didn’t plan to do anything of which your parents wouldn’t have approved.
Don’t be too surprised, then, if your child abandons the mainstream likes of Facebook and Twitter to make their way onto a lesser-known app like TikTok. Like the bigger-name sites, it hasn’t entirely avoided attracting dodgy-looking headlines, so it’s worth asking: is TikTok safe?As you were probably expecting us to say, it depends very much on how it is used. However, TikTok has various rules in place for the app’s users, while the UK’s most popular TikTok user, Holly H, has given the BBC’s Newsround tips for what young people can do to keep their TikTok experience fun.