Be the example of healthy online and social media usage
Keeping your kids safe online and on social media is now considered one of the more important aspects of parenting. Because it’s causing so many mental health issues among teens and tweens, parents are becoming more aware of their need to be informed on active ways they can protect their kids online, and across all social media platforms. But most parents neglect the ONE thing that can help their kids view technology healthily — model the behavior you want to see in your kids.
It can sometimes be hard to put our kids first, especially when we work from our phones and respond to emails and texts throughout the day. But what kind of message are we sending our kids when we can’t look up from our phones when they are talking to us or show them that we care about THEM more than our devices.
In a digital age, we need to be aware of the dangers, especially when it comes to damaging the relationship we hold most dear.
Try making boundaries in your household that reflect healthy usage of technology, like, no phones at the dinner table, or phones down during certain hours of the day.
So that’s the first step in protecting your kids online and on social media – be the example!
Keeping your kids safe from online bullying
Cyberbullying is one of the most common issues kids are facing when it comes to the internet.
In my interactions with the parents I coach, it’s evident that this is a common occurrence, even among young children. Online games that seem innocent, like Roblox, can be a platform that kids use to bully. When children hang out with their friends in person, where parents are present, they treat their friends normally. But when they get into spaces where there is no accountability, that’s when cyberbullying occurs.
When you have proper parental controls in place (something I cover later on in this article) on your child’s device, you will be alerted to any situations where your child is being bullied. From there, you can have open conversations with them about how it affected them and where you should go from there.
Utilize cyberbullying resources like Stopbullying.gov to help open your child’s eyes to what it is and how it can negatively impact their life.
Make sure you continually check-in on their mental health and give them safe spaces to share their hearts with you – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Guidelines and boundaries to establish with your kids
Having the hard conversations regularly and establishing a solid relationship with your child outside of rules and regulations will ultimately benefit you and your children. Your relationship should be about much more than making sure they adhere to your boundaries.
Make sure the moments you connect with them on the matter of online use and social media are positive, and a space they feel free to share.
Enforce the boundaries you set with your kids so you build trust. Let your yes’s be yes, and your no’s be no.
A great way to establish boundaries is to protect their device with a parental control app, like Bark. You can also invest in the safest phone for kids. Read here for a full review of the Pinwheel phone, and how it’s the BEST way to keep your kids safe online.
Best parental control for your child’s device
If you’re on the search for a parental control app, then check out the Bark app. Not only is Bark the leading parental control software that can be used on ALL household devices, but it also does what it says it does — keep your child safe in MANY situations.
Here is a complete review of the Bark app, and how it can protect your child from internet harm.
As there are many parental control software’s out there, it can be hard to figure out which one is best for your family.
I can only speak to the ones we use in our home.
Covenant Eyes – For all our computers as our son regularly researches the web since he’s homeschooled.
If you’re interested in any of these, check out my review articles to get more insight on how they work and why we use them.
Keeping your child safe on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and many other social media sites
Keeping your child safe from strangers and predators on these platforms is once again eradicated when you protect your child’s device with a parental control app, like Bark.
If you have a child who’s really struggling with honesty or has been put in compromising situations, it might be wise to get them a Pinwheel Phone as it doesn’t allow any social media apps, but rather parent and therapist approved ones. Unlike a Gabb Wireless phone, it can evolve with your child and their maturity.
Here are some things you can teach them when it comes to staying safe from predators
- Educate them on what is out there and what can happen. It may be a time to get detailed, as you want to inform them of the real dangers out there.
- Teach them to never give out their personal information to stangers.
- Keep up to date on your kid’s privacy setting across all social networks.
- Don’t allow them to use social media platforms they aren’t mature enough to use. Our 10 yo still isn’t allowed to use YouTube, but rather Kids YouTube.
- Accountability and supervision are in place to protect them. Tell them you want the best for them, and make it about that, and not keeping them from having fun.
Here are some tips from YouthFirst on how to educate your kids.
1. Be your own person. Never pretend to be someone that you are not. Be who you really are and you will attract the people who will become your real friends.
2. Be nice. Don’t say mean things just because you can hide behind a screen. Your words hurt the same as if you would say them to the person’s face.
3. Think about what you post. Remember that once it is out there it is out there for everyone!
4. Do not add people you don’t know to social media accounts. Having friends and followers is fun but can be dangerous when they are strangers.
5. Never send inappropriate pictures or engage in sexual conversations with peers or strangers. Never. Never. Never.
Here’s the thing. Even if we teach our kids all the right things to do on social media, they might still struggle to make the right choice. A choice that could change their lives forever. That’s why when it comes to your child’s safety, putting a parental control in place is the BEST option.
Safest kids phone options
As mentioned above, the Pinwheel Phone is an incredible way to help your child learn accountability from an early age. My son LOVES his new phone but also doesn’t really know what he’s missing. It’s a great way to not put him in a situation where he’s too immature to handle a certain temptation.
Here is a great image of what the Pinwheel Phone does.
Check out my full review here.
Teaching accountability and establishing a good relational foundation
Teaching internet safety now comes with the territory of being a parent. But first you need to ask yourself, am I making sure I’m investing in the relationship with my child in general.
If the foundation of mutual trust and respect is not first established, you may have some pretty bad power struggles when it comes to technology and your child.
But when you nurture a healthy home life, good things flow from there. If your child feels understood, they’re less likely to push back. When your child feels loved, they’re less likely to be dishonest.
Make sure you continually check in on their mental health and give them safe spaces to share their hearts with you – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Don’t punish them for coming across or looking for something they shouldn’t, especially when they come to you to talk about it. Walk with them through it — these are the most pivotal moments our kids need us.
If you want to know more about how to establish a healthy and incredible relationship with your kids, check out all my articles on parenting.
Social media causing mental health issues
The repercussions of your child being exposed to age-inappropriate things, being cyberbullied, or having overexposure to screens can be very damaging and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Screen time or video game addiction are very real things parents are dealing with today. But if you implement these tips for keeping them safe online, as well as limiting their time on screens, you can be successful in protecting them from brain development issues, a mental health illness, or worse.
Depression and anxiety are a common occurrence in kids who aren’t being protected online. As their online interactions begin to replace human interactions, it can be very confusing for them. The past few years have been very hard for children, as they aren’t given the opportunity to connect with people in real life. But we can still make efforts to help them establish healthy relationships outside of technology, even if it’s just with their parents.
Suicides among young people are staggeringly climbing, and parents are on the frontlines of helping their child’s mental health when it comes to keeping them safe online.
Do your part and protect your child today by implementing these boundaries, getting safer devices, and implementing parental controls in your household.