Tips for Setting Expectations for Kids’ on Social Media
by William Jackson, M.Edu.
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Speaking to youth and teens at The Bridge in Jacksonville, Florida
for their family night, it is surprising so many youth in middle and
elementary school have Social Media platforms and actively involved.
The laws like COPPA are designed to protect the identities and safety
of children (The term “child” means an individual under the age of 13)
and teens that are under 18 years of age. These protections cannot
be enforced if parents are not aware that their children are actively
involved on Social Media. Some elementary students are pretending
to be in high school to attract older friends.
Because of the growing threat of Cybersexing, child pornography,
Cyberstalking and Sex trafficking of children, parents need to diligent
and proactive in talking to their children. Here are some tips for
parents in setting their expectations for their children on Social Media.
Learn what it is and how to use it safely
No Underage Facebooking
Parents: did you know that no one under the age of 13 is permitted
to join Facebook? Unfortunately, there is no real way for Facebook
to enforce this. Children can lie about their year of birth. Parents
need to make sure that their child stays away from Facebook until
13 and if they are mature enough to handle it.
Monitor Privacy Settings
Parents: check your privacy settings for the Internet and if your
children are using it to access Facebook set to the strictest levels.
Depending on your browser you can adjust the settings and adjust
levels around cookies. This not only protects the computer user, but
from computer threat of viruses, malware and spyware.
Check your Facebook privacy settings is important to make sure
settings are saved and check often.
Use Filtering Software
Parents: 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 general.
Programs like Net Nanny and PureSight PC monitor social media
sites, block chats, filter content and more. You can even monitor
your child’s cell phone with a software program like My Mobile
Watchdog or contact
the cell phone provider for advice in time restrictions.
Create Ground Rules
Parents: Set rules and expectations for your kids. Talk to them
about being responsible and accountable because the
consequences could threaten their lives, literally. When kids are
old enough to use technology, they are old enough to understand
that there are rules they need to abide by. The best way for
families to agree on ground rules is to create a contract that all
parties must sign and follow.
Get To Know Your Child’s Habits
Parents: You need to know how your children act and react,
you don’t need to spy on your kid’s, it is important to be aware
of the kinds of sites they are visiting, and the people they are
A great quote is, “you are judged by the associates you keep.”
You got to know the friends they are hanging out with at school,
and their online friends. One of the contract rules should be that
you have full access to their Facebook friends, Vine, SnapChat
and can take a look whenever you wish until 16. This may be
extreme, but think that law enforcement looks that their content
for potential criminal activity.
Keep the Computer in a Central Location
Parents: Place the computer in a central location like your kitchen
or family room so that everything is out in the open. If kids feel the
need for privacy that is an indication of future problems. Make sure
you monitor Smartphones, tablets and laptops also.
Your Kids Should Avoid Questionnaires, Free Giveaways
Parents: Teach your children to ignore ads, giveaways and contests
that ask for personal information. It’s important to warn kids against
falling for Internet tricks. Many of these ruses are attempts to get
personal information of them and parents.
Monitor the Pictures Your Child Posts Online
Parents: Children should never post nude or seminude photos no
matter who asks. Sharing photos with friends via email or social
networking sites should be limited. Be sure you as the parent knows
exactly which pictures are being posted and to whom.
No Yelling – No Fussing – Respect is Important
Be a Good Example of How to Use Social Media
Parents: You are the role model, if you’re tweeting and updating
your Facebook page at a stop light, texting and other dangerous
actions, you’re setting a poor precedent for social media usage
that your child will surely follow. Parents should be demonstrating
technology etiquette that is safe and responsible.
Limit Cell Phone Use
Parents: Limiting all technology is a good example of parenting.
Children need balance and even a break from tech from time to time.
Set rules for the device, only allowing cell phone usage at certain
hours in the evening or after homework has been completed and
chores done. Enforce rules if your teens are of driving age, important
rule to enforce circumstances about cell phones used while driving.
Teach and model what you preach and teach.
Teach Kids about an Online Reputation
Parents: Kids and teens don’t understand the permanence of their
Social Media content. Google your children and show them the results,
their digital footprint expands as they post more information online.
Future college administration or employers can research and find
their Social Media information and even those they are associated
with. Their friends can keep them from jobs and scholarships from
“guilt by association.” Kids do not have to friends with everyone
they know or think they know.
Talk to Kids about Online Dangers
Parents: Communication can save a life, so talking to your children
is very important. Having an open line of communication is crucial
the minute your kids start using the Internet, don’t assume your kids
know something because they probably don’t or have the
wrong information. Parry Aftab, safety and privacy expert and
Executive Director of WiredSafety, says, “Who’s a stranger online?
Everyone is! You need to remind your children that these people are
strangers and that the standard rules always apply.”
Get to Know the Technology
Parents: Kids have gained a mastery of technology so quickly, but
they lack maturity and life experiences. It is every parent’s responsibility
to know exactly how your kids are using technology. Their actions can
hurt their parents. Many gaming machines offer access to the Internet
either paid service or free. Make sure you understand what options are
available and what content is accessible.
No Video In The House
Parents, you need to monitor video and photos of your home. Your
child should not be showing off his room, your room, your appliances
or walking around on a video. Who knows who is watching the video
and planning to commit a crime against you and your family? The
holidays are very scary, because people are watching homes, Social
Media sites to learn what is going on and who is getting what.
Be cautious, be safe and use common sense, follow your intuitions
and suspicions when dealing with Social Media and your children.
Adapted from: Social Media Monitoring
Prevent Cyberbullying with Education and Accountability
presented by Wm Jackson, M.Edu
Teacher of the Year
Instructor with Edward Waters College