Back to School and Social Media: Keeping Your Kids Safe and Happy

socialmediaThere is no time like the fall; school is back in session and routine begins to settle quickly. As children return to school, new friends are made, activities begin and social media madness begins to quickly rise.

We see more kids with smart phones in their hands today than at any other time in our history, and they are using these phones at younger ages. If your child is asking to become part of the social media world, and is old enough, here are some tips to keep your child safe and happy:

1. Start small and let them be part of one social media outlet to test the waters.

2. Discuss all implications, risks and concerns before they are allowed to post anything. Explain and set privacy controls.

3. Monitor and/or require your child(ren) to show you what they are posting. Explain to them that safety comes first, and social media can be wonderful if used correctly or dangerous if used incorrectly. Explain why you are monitoring their usage at the beginning stages (and even in the future).

4. Explain that social media leaves a digital footprint forever and can inhibit opportunities in the future (once online-always online, setting themselves up to be bullied, and even ruining future endeavors-yes, even as an adult).

5. Tell them about their rights. If one of their friends is taking pictures, they do not have to be in the photo. Explain to them that once they are on the phone of a friend, an image can be used, shared and created as a tool for bullying. They have a right to say they do not want to be in any photo.

6. As a parent, if you do not want images of your children online, let them take pictures of things instead to post (just be sure to teach them about taking pictures in public).

7. If they take pictures of their friends, teach them to ask first. Many parents get upset when they see images of their children online without their permission. Teach your children to respect the privacy of others.

8. Make sure all navigation is off on a phone with GPS, as images can be traced back to their immediate location.

9. Explain the positive and negatives with social media. If they are old enough to understand the consequences, if you are comfortable, give them the chance and space to use it properly (or they may rebel and use it behind your back).

10. Be responsible as a parent and go with your level of comfort. Parental instinct should never be ignored. Listen to that little voice, give them room to grow and keep them safe.

If you enjoyed this article, or found it useful, please share with other parents.

Here is a short clip of me discussing bullying and ways to approach the teacher on Fox News Chicago:

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