Does your child have a cellphone, tablet or ipad? Is it a prerequisite at your child’s school? Social media is here to stay and it’s only natural to worry about how you can keep your child safe online.
So how familiar are you with the social media apps your children can access? Educate yourself about what’s available and establish good ground rules from the start.
Online mobile apps available:
Age restrictions appear in brackets.
Facebook (13) Instagram (13)
Snapchat (13) Twitter (13)
Tumblr (13) Whatsapp (16)
Qooh.me (-) YouTube (16)
to mention a few. The list is growing all the time.
These apps can become addictive and precious time will be wasted daily if some restrictions and controls are not put in place from early on.
Do you know…
• Your child’s password?
• What the age restriction is for the mobile apps they have?
• How many followers your child has and is following on Instagram?
• How many friends your child has on Facebook – and who they are?
• What friends your child has on Snapchat?
1. Draw up a contract between you and your child when they first get a phone. Make sure they understand your rules clearly, so there is no doubt about any of them. Be consistent. Once decided upon, they should be non-negotiable. (These can be reviewed as they get older.)
2. Decide on a place in the house where cell phones can be charged overnight. Google: A Sample of a Cell Phone Contract for Parents and Tweens for some ideas. Never allow this to be done in a child’s bedroom. This rule should also apply to friends that stay over.
3. Limit the number of apps your child is allowed to access.
4. Monitor your child’s phone on a regular basis.
5. Don’t allow cell phones to intrude on quality family time.
6. Show good cell phone behaviour yourself which your child can model.
7. Have constant discussions with your child about cell phone issues. Security, responsibility, cyber bullying, sexting, online strangers, cell phone etiquette etc
Popular apps used by younger children:
Instagram: (13) Users take and share pictures and videos. Photos can be altered. Parents need to supervise. Set privacy settings to only allow friends they know to see images. Turn off the Geo-location feature.
Snapchat: (13 ) – Users send photos and videos. Images ‘disappear’ once viewed. Some children are using Snapchat to sext. Children may think photos disappear forever but a screenshot can be taken and the image can go viral.
Qooh Me! (No age restriction!) This addictive app enables users, of all ages, to ask one another questions anonymously. (There is no age restriction or privacy settings!) Parental supervision required!
For further reading: Tech Savvy Parenting Book
by Nikki Bush.
Keep abreast of what’s out there and don’t miss talks on this topic by Emma Sadleir.