Social media parents guide: how to keep kids safe online

It seems that no matter where you look these days, you will encounter some form of online social media, from Facebook to Twitter, Snapchat to Instagram, and everything in between. We are constantly surrounded by social media. It can be a bit intimidating and frightening when you allow your child to get their first phone knowing what all is out there. This social media parent’s guide will help you navigate the “do”s and “don’t”s of online usage. 

There are ways you can help your child (and ease your state of mind) to safely navigate the social media web. There are a lot of great parental control apps for social media out there, which can help you stay updated on your child’s online habits on their phone, all while respecting your child’s need for privacy. By following this social media parents guide, you should be able to establish successful and safe social media habits for your children. 

As technology evolves, so does the way in which we communicate with the world at large. It has now become crucial to learn how to communicate with colleagues, friends, family, and loved ones in an online setting. Learning early not only sets the stage for success, but also opens the door to new opportunities and experiences. Unfortunately, without proper control, social media can become quite addictive as some find it to be an escape from reality, they find validation from those they meet online, and they have the freedom to express themselves in a way they may not feel comfortable doing in real life. 

As children become more and more exposed to social media, it is easier for them to become more and more addicted to the lure of it. It is our job as parents to ensure that our children are safe when they are online. It is up to parents to monitor kids’ social media usage, but in a way that is constructive and positive for both the kids and the parents. This social media parents guide will help you and your child navigate the world of online networking and social media usage in a fun and safe manner. 

The role social media plays in kids’ social lives these days

The world is a much more connected place than it used to be 25 years ago. With the advancement of technology, we can talk to and befriend people online that we may have never gotten the chance to know otherwise. Kids are even more connected now to the world at large via social media. They can view world events, make friends from around the globe, and learn about new places, all from the comfort of their homes. They are able to stay informed of differing viewpoints on world events, as well as different schools of thought. Social media has taken it all one step further by allowing kids to create online social circles with their friends.

Social media allows kids the chance to be their own people and express themselves in new and exciting ways. Unfortunately, sometimes social media can take over and consume kids as well. That’s why it’s important to monitor kids’ social media usage. Thankfully there are really great apps that allow for parental controls in social media. These apps range from limiting the time your child spends on their device, to who they interact with online, and even monitoring things like cyber bullying and inappropriate content. This social media parent’s guide should help you navigate how to ensure the safety and security of your children online. 

Benefits and drawbacks of social media

Social media provides a great platform for kids to stay in touch with friends and family. It also provides an outlet for them to express themselves in a way that allows them to control who can see what they share. It allows kids an opportunity to see the world from more than just their parents’ perspective. This gives them a broader view of the world around them. Another great feature of social media is that it allows for kids, and parents alike, a great chance to interact with the community in which they live. 

Social media also provides a great opportunity to teach kids how to interact with others in a productive and positive manner which can start them off on the right foot when they start their careers and adult lives. Social media provides kids a great opportunity to stay connected and informed, build and work on social bonds, and just relax and have fun. 

 Unfortunately, social media can also have a dark side and it’s up to parents to monitor their kids’ social media usage. Child predators, cyber bullying, and inappropriate content are all issues to be aware of  when you child logs online. Over-usage is also another prevalent concern. It is all too easy for kids to become lost in social media, to the point where reality and virtual worlds become hard to distinguish from one another. Thankfully, there are a lot of different options when it comes to monitoring kids’ social media usage. There is the traditional method of just accessing it via your child’s phone, or there are a number of apps, such as Jiminy, that allow parents to remotely monitor social media and phone usage without violating their children’s privacy. 

How to talk to your kids about their social media use and how you are monitoring it

Communication is the key to a successful and fulfilling relationship between parents, their kids, and their social media usage. Kids want to know that their parents aren’t spying on them and parents want to ensure that their kids are practicing online social communication safely. Where is the middle ground? 

The first place to start is to start a conversation with your kids about the potential good and bad aspects of social media. Kids need to know that they have their parent’s trust to do the right thing, but parents also have to trust that their kids know how to do the right thing when confronted with a threat online, even if it is one that they aren’t willing to admit to. Sitting down with your kids and talking to them about parental controls and social media will help alert them that dangers do exist online and what to do when confronted with them. 

By sitting down with your kids, it also shows them that you as a parent are willing to trust them to do the right thing, but that you will also respect their need for privacy. This is also a great opportunity to talk to your kids about online security measure that you have set up as well as parental control apps for social media that allow you to follow your child’s actions online without knowing the specifics of what they are doing. 

By having your kids actively involved in their own online safety, it will make them feel like it is less a lack of trust, but rather a joint effort that they can actively participate in. This will help build trust between parents and children about their online social media habits, who their friends are, and how much time they are spending online. Establishing parental controls on social media should feel less like a punishment, and more like a safety precaution done out of love. By starting the conversation before anything occurs, it will prevent misunderstandings in the future that can lead to a breakdown in trust between parents and their children which could lead to a more troublesome conversation when something bad does happen. 

How to set up parental controls on social media, a social media parents guide

One of the first things you and your child should do is set up the privacy settings on their social media platforms. This can include locking their social media accounts down to only allow known friends and family to see their online posts, and making their accounts private. Some social media platforms allow for comments to be turned off, as well as offensive language filters. It is also recommended that parents go through their child’s friends and followers list and remove, and even potentially block, anyone that your child may not know or who looks suspicious. Another great feature is to turn off location sharing on their various social media accounts. Kids should also be advised not to share personal information online as it could potentially be used by others for less savory purposes. Parents are also encouraged to set up the parental controls on their child’s phone to establish if certain content should be filtered out based on the maturity level set up by the parental account owner. 

Each social media application will have its own privacy settings which will need to be set up to ensure your child’s safety. It is up to the parents and their kids to work together to set up the parental controls for social media. Unfortunately those settings can be bypassed or turned off by your child. By working together, you ensure that your child plays an active role in their own safety and is on board with the precautions being taken. For more security and peace of mind, it is highly recommended that parents download parental control apps for social media, such as Jiminy. Jiminy adds an extra level of security that parents can rely on to keep them informed of their child’s online activity, yet still offers the privacy and trust that kids crave. 

Some parents may feel that setting up parental controls on their child’s social media may not be the best option for their family. Only your family can decide on the correct path. You may feel that it is up to your child to establish the correct privacy settings and monitor their own online safety, thus making them responsible. There is no one answer that will suit every family and there are certainly drawbacks and positives for each decision. Before deciding, take a look at social media parents guides to see what is the best fit for you and your family. Building trust and teaching your child to be vigilant while online go hand in hand, but the first step is to sit down as a family and discuss social media usage, what to be aware of, and what the best fit is for you and your family. These conversations can also help your child develop good online safety habits that will serve them well in their adult life, as they’ll already understand the importance of protecting their passwords and personal information.

At the end of the day, your child’s safety is the number one concern. Getting them involved in the process and talking to them about the potential threats and dangers in the online world is a great way to have open and honest communication between everyone. Ensuring your child’s trust and cooperation will ensure that they have a better experience online and prevent them from hiding or being afraid to speak up when something or someone pops up online that makes them uncomfortable. The online world can be a great place filled with many great interactions, but an ounce of precaution will ensure that the fun continues in a safe manner. Installing parental control apps for their social media will give both you and your child peace of mind.

Looking for information on specific social media platforms? We have a series of guides to help you understand the apps and sites your child might be using:

Parents’ Guide to Snapchat

How Can Parents Monitor Instagram?

Parents’ Guide to Yubo

Parents’ Guide to Amino

How to Set Controls on an Android Phone

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