Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Three of the big social media platforms that allow people of all ages from all over the world to view images, videos and information about each other. These tools are great for keeping in touch, sharing your thoughts and being creative. Unfortunately, they can also be used to cause harm.
These three networking tools, like the majority of online resources, have a 13 plus registration policy, and for good reasons. Children under this age are not equipped with the necessary skills to use these tools safely. If your son or daughter has a social networking account with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or similar sites like Snapchat, and they are under 13, they are breaking the policy guidelines of the sites. You may have given them your blessing, or you may not even know that this is the case. Here are some ways to allow your children to safely use social networking, and still uphold your ethical responsibility to monitor their behaviour and ensure that they are interacting in an acceptable manner online:
- If your child is under 13, disable their social media accounts. Today.
- Ensure that you have control of the passwords that allow for downloading apps on all household devices
- To allow for social networking and to observe what is going on, create family accounts that your children can use to add content
- Closely monitor the content being added and viewed by your children
- Enforce a curfew of 7:00 for all devices to be in a central location like the kitchen charging area
- Block those users who are acting inappropriately
- I repeat, closely monitor your child’s use of social networking tools
- If you can’t closely monitor the use of these tools, don’t allow them until your children are 13. Or 16. Or 18.
One way that you can get more ibformation about social networking sites is to visit The Easy Guide to Socialising Online (http://www.dbcde.gov.au/easyguide/social_networking).
Parents and teachers can provide valuable input to decision makers by joining the Teachers and Parents Advisory Group on Cybersafety. This initiative allows adults who have children or work in education to guide policy and inform change at the highest levels of government. If you are interested, visit http://www.dbcde.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/161125/TAP-Membership-form.pdf for a registration form. More information about the DBCDE’s efforts in the CyberSafety field can be seen at http://www.dbcde.gov.au/funding_and_programs/cybersafety_plan.