If you ask most parents when they’d like their child to start using the internet, they’d reply, “Never!” Most of us are well-accustomed to the criticism, negativity and even targeted harassment that occurs on social media, either as innocent bystanders or personal victims. While it would be great to protect our children from the harsh, lawless wasteland that social media can sometimes appear to be, the fact of the matter is that digital platforms are here to stay, and children need to know how to use them wisely. Social media is not only a multi-billion-dollar industry, but it’s also more commonplace than ever in the United States, making internet safety a life skill no parent should overlook. Here are a few reasons why you’ll want to teach your kids about social media practices ASAP.
Social Media is Full of Dangers
Teens often reveal highly personal information online, turning to social networking sites as a way to express thoughts and feelings they don’t feel comfortable sharing with their family and friends. Those who struggle in real life to make lasting connections, especially those who are bullied, may wind up revealing details about themselves online that could make them prime targets for child predators. Cyberbullying is also a major concern; bullies will continually harass their victims outside of school by turning to the internet. In some cases, they’ll even pretend to be someone else to gain the victim’s trust, only to use what they learn as a way to publicly shame them later on. Teaching kids how to be safe online and not post selfies, personal information and other identifying details online protects their physical and emotional well-being. Parents should also be open about cyberbullying, ask questions and come up with an action plan for their child to seek him from a trusted figure if they’re being targeted.
Also Read: Tips for Teens: How to Find Your First Real Job
It Can Affect Them for Life
What goes online stays online. These days old tweets can get you fired, no matter how old they may be. Teens are likely to strongly voice their opinions online on a variety of subjects; as they grow older, things they once said can come back to haunt them as their social media profiles are reviewed by college admissions offices and future employers. Inappropriate or risqué photos, controversial statements or otherwise lewd and improper conduct online can impact employment and college applications. Social media conduct is a problem modern generations are facing as they grow older and try to establish their professional identities.
They Can Miss Out on Their Childhood
Spending so much time online can quickly become an escape from the real world. While many people do make great connections with people online, teenagers should not be receiving the bulk of their social interactions from strangers. Social media makes it easier for teens to live out their youth virtually, missing out on memories and critical opportunities to develop important social skills.
It’s important to teach kids skills that will help them to not only be better people, but that will help to make a better society in the future. By teaching kids about social media safety from an early age, parents can help them learn to use the internet safely and responsibly. This can help them to become more responsible people and can protect them from potential dangers.
Additional resource: Password Manager