Social networking sites play an important role in the lives of many young people. Over 60% of 13-17 year olds have at least one profile on a social networking site, many spending an average of 5 hours per day on social networking sites.
Social networking sites can present prospects to youth who participate with them but like any activity there are also associated risks and it is important for parents to help their children use these sites wisely.
ADVANTAGES OF SOCIAL MEDIA TO KIDS
- Through social media, children tend to develop new contacts with peers with similar interest and also stay connected to their friends.
- Social media helps kids share their content of self-expression; it helps them share their works with an audience all over the world such as views, artworks, music etc.
- It also helps children develop and express their individual identity.
- Social media helps prevent solitude in children; studies have shown that teens nowadays feel less lonely because social media helps create a sense of belonging.
- Kids always find support on social media, virtually everyone has a problem that has been experienced by someone else, there are known cases that forums online has talked teens out of the decision to commit suicide, social media can strengthen a disregarded kid
DISADVANTAGES OF SOCIAL MEDIA TO KIDS
- This issue of hate speech is more likely to occur with kids who belong to the minorities and societies that are discriminated against. In online communications, individuals with unidentified characters may easily indulge in the hate speech or disrespectful behaviour. While during a personal interaction an individual may think again before passing such comment.
- Cyber bullying transpires when a person makes use of sites like Facebook to take on a bullying behaviour towards somebody during a conversation or sends menacing messages.
- Children often do not understand or fully read the privacy settings of their social media accounts; they don’t know the dangers of disclosing personal information online. Some of these kids may eventually be victims of identity theft.
- Some kids may judge their success by the number of friends they have on Facebook or if they are included in some specific group of people, this can make some children suffer from low self-esteem or confidence and other emotional implications.
TIPS TO ENSURE CHILD SAFETY ON SOCIAL NETWORK
- Privacy settings: check that your privacy settings for the internet and other social media are set to the strictest levels. Depending on which browser you are using, you can adjust the settings directly from the options tab and adjust levels around cookies, third party sites and more. Make an alternate profile and check how effective those privacy settings are.
- Installing security software is also a good idea. this way, you can prevent your child from accidentally accessing links that have been classified as adult content, they are general software suites you can purchase to monitor your child’s internet usage; many even enable you to view the exact keys that were typed, time spent online and all computer activity in popular programs
- Make sure you and your child discuss online interactions regularly. Keeping an open relationship is always a good idea, as your child will inform you if he plans to meet anybody he met online, or if somebody said something inappropriate to him. You don’t need to be a super investigative and spy on your kid’s every online move, but it is important to be aware of the kinds of sites he is frequenting and the people he is associating with.
- Regulate the amount of time your child spends online. It is possible that he may get addicted to social networking and adopt negative traits. Also in an ideal world, your child would never post a photo of herself online, but that might not be entirely realistic. If she wants to share photos with her friends via email or a social networking site, be sure you know exactly which pictures are being posted.
- Teach kids about an online reputation: many kids don’t seem to understand the longevity of the online world. Make sure to stress to your kids what a digital mark is and the impact inappropriate messages or images could have if a future college administrator or employer were to stumble upon them.