Children these days are exposed to technology like never before. So much so that we often see grandparents and sometimes even parent take help from children on certain phone apps or functions on their computer. From infants and toddlers to teens, everyone has exposure to the internet and it is part of their daily routine. There are nursery rhymes or educative apps for toddlers, homework and assignments for the older kids. From usage of social media to stay connected to gaming and other entertainment – there is something available for everyone. Moreover, with smart phones, tablets/ laptops and easily available internet, exposure is at its maximum.
In such an environment with immense exposure to social media, it is easy for innocent kids to fall prey to the disadvantages that come along with it. Therefore, here are a few things we must teach our kids about social media to help make the best use of it.
- Age appropriate usage
As we know, it is impossible to keep our kids away from social media, so the best way to make sure they are using it cautiously is training and teaching them about it from the very beginning. Introduce them to different forms of social media like Whats app, Facebook, Twitter etc according to what you and your spouse feel appropriate. For eg. Younger kids can view pictures of family while sitting with you and browsing your account. As a family discuss about when you think it is appropriate for them to have their own accounts.
This is one of the most important aspects while using social media. Teach them privacy settings for all the networking sites they use. Additionally from a very early age, you need to make them aware of the kind of information that they should share with different groups of people. For eg. For ex: Our holiday pictures should only be shared with select friends & family. We already train our kids on real world interaction. Similarly, we should train them on using similar judgment in the online space as well.
- Pictures and videos
Once a picture or a video is uploaded, it stays there forever. Even though there are delete options available, it is not completely effective. If someone picked up the picture or re-shared it elsewhere, it gets impossible to track. Thus, it is very important to teach the kids to judiciously share and upload images/videos, especially personal ones.
- Social Bullying
Kids’ minds are fragile and sometimes while using social media they could come across others who might try to hurt or disrespect them. Kids need to be explained about how the online world could be used by miscreants to cause disturbances.
In addition, teach them not to talk or post things that they themselves would not be comfortable saying in person.
- Friend Requests
As in the real world we make sure to instruct our kids to stay away from strangers, similarly we need to explain the same for the online world. Convince your kid to consult with you before accepting a stranger’s friend request.
- Time spent
Time spent of social media is very important since overuse could lead to addiction. This would adversely affect the studies and other primary activities of the kids. Make sure time limits are well set and followed, not just for children but everyone at home too. Also too much exposure to gadgets adversely affects the eyes. Follow these quick tips to help counter the strain on the eyes and maintain good eye health.
- Policing vs parenting
While we make sure that the kids are trained on using social media, we should also monitor their activities with them being aware of it. Do not cross the fine line between parenting and policing but make the kids feel that you are around so that they could discuss with you whenever they need.
Leading by example is the best way to make sure your child follows the above points. If the child sees overuse of social mediums by parents, getting them to follow rules will be difficult. It is very important as a parent to keep up with the times and stay abreast with what is new. This way we will be able to weigh pros and cons and train our kids well.
I recently read an article about how gadgets have become a free babysitting service where the moment kids get bored or start getting restless, we try to pacify them with audio visuals. Since this is a very simple and quick method to pacify the kids, even I am guilty to resorting to it often. But I have noticed that often the kids get grumpier and more restless once they are asked to stop using the gadgets. In addition, this hampers their creativity and time for unstructured activities. Due to this I have created a fixed schedule to for device usage as well as a for other activities to make sure their balanced brain usage. Watch this space for more on this
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