Social media has gradually crept into our daily life routines and automatically taken over most of our time. There is hardly a day that goes by without an individually logging into their their favorite site at least four or five times a day. There are now new innovations in smart phones and blackberries, with various development of web applications that one can easily access and download. With these new inventions and innovations and their rampancy, smart phones and internet access are now cheaper, so many children now have easy access to phones and unlimited access to the internet and social media.
Indeed, social media comes with a great deal of benefits one can enjoy as a user. Most important of them all is easy access to information. Anyone from anywhere around the globe have the world on their hands when they have access to social media. News, trends and academic information are posted online every minute, on a daily basis. Current and lost friends, distant friends and families are easily connected and they can share information about themselves. People can also make new friends online. Schools and teachers educate their students through the internet, give assignments through the internet and may even have to request that the children submit their assignments on the schools’s or teacher’s website. There are so many educational apps currently developed for kids to use on tablets and smart phones. These apps ranges from animal apps, forest apps, alphabet apps, Mathematical apps, Grammar apps, kids musical apps, sound identification apps, games and puzzle apps to develop their reasoning and intellectual skills. These apps are very educational and are very useful tools to help your kids learn and perform better at school. Social media gives children the opportunity to expression themselves freely; they can post and share any thing they want. Indeed, this is where the problem of safety comes in. Since people are at liberty receive and share anything they want online, the teens and preteens are exposed to online dangers that can destroy their lives.
Dangers Inherent in The use of Social Media
In as much as these apps and social networks embody a great deal of benefits to our children, parents should make it a priority to sanitize their phones and computers to prevent unwanted and disruptive links and sites that will corrupt, distract and deviate their kids from their potential positive path of growth. Some of these dangers include:
- Sexting: Sexting is the sharing of sexually appealing messages, pictures and images through digital devices. These messages can corrupt your kids and expose their minds to pornography. They can early sexual awareness and indulge in some deviant sexual behaviors.
- Cyber-bullying and online harassment: This is a deliberate attempt to give false, embarrassing and insulting information to someone with the intention of making the person feel less of a person than they are
- Facebook depression. This is a situation whereby your kids may feel depression, anger or self resentment due to him or her not getting attention from friends online. If the child is being ignored when he makes a post or comment, he may develop what is called Facebook depression and may feel that everyone dislikes them, when it is not the case.
- Child molestation and Assault. When your kids make friends with strangers online, chat and share information about themselves with these strangers all the time time, not knowing whom they are actually chatting, because they may may be deceived or spammed, your kids might agree to meet them some place secretly. These strangers may be rapists, kidnappers or robbers who are ready to harm them without thought.
- Unnecessary distraction and deviation from an intended course: Your kids might be using the internet to research for their school project and suddenly unnecessary links of adverts and how to make money online keeps popping up on your server. These adverts can easily distract your kids from completing their assignments on time or they may end up not doing their assignments.adverts
- Mismanagement of Time: If kids are left to brows the internet without limitation, they are bound to spend at least seven hours a day browsing the net, ignoring other things they are expected to do during the day, including their assignments and academic life. Ignoring life outside the social media and other meaningful activities that will develop their lives.
These dangers, as highlighted above, are very ravaging wolves present on the website. If care is not taken to checkmate and control the activities of children on social media, they are bound to deviate from the expected path of growth and normal way of life. There is therefore a great need for parents to take some time to ensure their kids are well protected from these dangers.
Ways You Can Protect Your Kids From The hazards of Social Media
- The first thing to do and the most important step is to talk to your children and educate them on the dangers they are bound to encounter while using social media. Help them understand what is an appropriate and inappropriate information to share and receive in and from social media. Let them know and understand who and who to relate with and share their information with. Tell them to ignore strangers, as they would on a face to face contact. Teach them how to block any person who molest them and how to report any online abuse, links and conversations that are designed to make them feel bad about themselves. Teach them about what they should and should not do on social media.
- All social media sites always have a handle for privacy settings. Help them set their privacy settings to align with how you want them to use the media. While you do this, make them understand your reason for doing it for them, so that they do not feel you do not trust them enough. Explain to them how they can adjust their privacy settings on their own to prevent unwanted people from viewing their information and activities online.
- Install parental control softwares to track, monitor and filter their activities online. You can do this with a very good parental control software, such as BullGuard, Net nanny, Webwatcher, McAfee safe Eyes, CYBERsitter, Verity, and so many others, which are also very good.There are a good list of them on Top Ten Parental Control Softwares. There are also some mobile device software you can use to block unwanted information from your kids. Some children apps are also available for you to install in your children’s mobile phones, so they only make use of the apps you install for them.
- Ensure you install security on their devices. There are varied amount of security software from McAfee, Bullguards, Norton, Kaspersky, Bitdefender, and so forth. These security systems are designed to protect the user and the system from inappropriate contents, cyberbullying and sexual harassment.
- Tell them about the presence of CPC and Facebook Family Center to report cases of cyber-bullying and online harassment, so that such is automatically blocked from internet server. The Facebook family Center provides a good number of information on children’s online safety for parents, teachers and kids.
- Help them manage their time online by setting time limit for browsing hours on the installed parental control software. If kids are left to brows without time limit, they are ready to spend a minimum of seven hours a day online. Therefore it is necessary that you configure the software so that they are only allowed to spend certain number of hours on the internet per day or week so that they can manage their time well.
Children are indeed the future of tomorrow. There is nothing more disheartening, than seeing your children deviating from the path of success and accomplishment you desired for them, due to some device you thought would be beneficial to them, only to find out that it actually destroyed them. As parents, you have the right to regulate, control and monitor every aspect of your children’s life. Make an extra effort and lay a path for your children’s success in the future.