Let’s face it – as parent, we’d all like to say that we know it all and have everything under control. But the increasing smartphone and social media usage in recent years
has left many of us in the dark. What is really going on in our children’s lives?
They tell me their day was “fine”, but sometimes it’s hard to believe. It seems like there is a new social media site popping up every week, and it is difficult to keep up with what your child is using and who they are talking to online. So how can you be more involved in their usage?
1. Stay up to date
One of the best things you can do as a parent to protect your child is staying up to date with the latest social media trends. Especially with anonymous comment sites like Whisper, After School, and Ask.fm becoming increasingly popular, it is beginning to be more and more accessible for tweens to send classmates anonymous, harmful messages. Consult other parents, teachers, and the internet to better understand social media trends and usage.
2. Be involved and present
Getting your child to say more than “good” when you ask them how their day was can be like pulling teeth, but it is worth it to try to push through this barrier. Though they wouldn’t admit it, your tween is longing for someone to really be invested and care about their life and feelings, especially you. Understanding how your child is feeling, particularly at school, is crucial to gaining a window into what’s really going on in their life, as well as their device usage.
3. Enforce guidelines and boundaries
Remember, at the end of the day, it is your job to protect your child. Even if it brings up some conflict, guidelines and boundaries are healthy and can play a big part in keeping your tween safe online. For some families, this means having an open discussion with the child. This gives the child a sense of ownership and autonomy of the guidelines, making them more open to embracing them. The smart phone world is ever changing, but employing these steps in your family will have a positive impact on your child, your relationship with them, and their safety. Keep fighting to be in the know!
4. Use online protection for your child’s phone
Some inexpensive apps will monitor your child’s social media and inform you if anything goes wrong. In many ways using apps that scan your child’s social media is better than doing so yourself. For one, the app will most likely do so better than you, since the programs know about the latest social media trends, codes and platforms. Also, when an app does the reading, rather than a person, your teen’s privacy will be kept until a sign of danger or difficulty arises. And third, the app will monitor the communication in real time, rather than when you finally remember to do it.
You can start using Jiminy, a parental awareness app, for free, and learn more about your child’s screen time habits. Click here to learn more: https://www.jiminy.me