Social media is a big part of kids’ lives from a much younger age than it ever was before. Previous generations were not introduced to social media and similar technologies until they were a bit older, but now elementary school children use social media.
Certainly, social media has some great benefits. It helps kids stay connected and learn about the world around them, but it poses dangers as well.
Banning social media altogether will not help your children develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills they need, and it will only create a divide. Instead, parents should focus on teaching their kids what to post online and what not to.
Appropriate Social Media Posts for Children Examples
- A smiling selfie
- Photos of pets
- Vacation photos (once your family has returned home or left the destination)
- Photos with siblings or parents
- Photos in age-appropriate outfits
- Appropriate dance videos
Inappropriate Social Media Posts for Children
- Sexual images or videos (nudity, revealing clothing, poses, etc)
- Photos that clearly reveal your location (the front of your home, your hotel room number, etc).
- Mean remarks toward others
- Unapproved photos of family members or friends
Create a Contract
Talk with your child about what content is and is not appropriate to post online. Make sure they understand the difference and can point out appropriate vs inappropriate posts. Layout your rules when it comes to social media posts for kids, and create a contract. Make it clear what the consequences are for breaking the contract.
Children are much more receptive to reasoning than parents believe. Barking demands at your kids with “because I said so” as the reason will not create trust or cooperation. Explain WHY certain content is inappropriate. Articulate the risk of posting certain content, and how it could affect your child and the entire family. Give them ideas for safe and acceptable social media posts for kids. Some examples include:
- Sexual photos attract preditors and can make you more susceptible to grooming.
- What you post online stays online forever and can be retrieved even when deleted.
- Future schools, employers, etc will check your online reputation and inappropriate content could ruin your chances.
- Posting your location or making it clear where you are exposes our entire family to risk. If people know where we live and that we are gone on vacation, they could target our home to rob.
- Virtual bullying is hurtful and damaging to others. Treat them as you want to be treated, this rule applies in person and online.
Getting Kids to Think Twice Before Posting
Rather than trying to monitor and control your child’s every move online, empower them to make smart posting decisions. Step in when needed with parental controls or consequences, but ultimately encourage your child to think twice before hitting “post”.