Editor-in-Chief & Publisher: MIR JAVED RAHMAN


Are you monitoring your children’s social media?


Issue Date 05 - 11 Aug, 2017 at 2:00 PM


Are you monitoring your children’s social media?
Social networking is on the rise, and a study by The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently found that 22 per cent of teenagers log onto their favourite social media sites more than 10 times a day, and that 75 per cent own cell phones. This level of online engagement increases the risks of cyberbullying, ‘Facebook depression’ (a new phenomenon where ‘de-friending’ and online bullying lead to symptoms of depression), exposure to inappropriate content, and similar activities.
Just as we prepare our kids for life in the real world, we should prepare them for life in the online world. Read on for tips that every parent should keep in mind.

Facebook is not for underage kids
Did you know that no one under the age of 13 is permitted to join Facebook? However, there is no real way for Facebook to truly enforce it, because anyone can lie about their year of birth. You need to make sure that your child stays away from Facebook until 13 and until you are comfortable with him or her having an account. There are measures put in place, such as reporting an underage child, but ultimately, it should be the parent who has the say on when and if that account gets created.

Privacy settings must be checked
Check that your privacy settings for the internet and Facebook are set to the strictest levels. Depending on which browser you are using, you can adjust the settings directly from the options tab and adjust levels around cookies, third party sites and more. This not only protects the user, but also the computer from the threat of viruses.

Use software to filter content
There are 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. Popular programs such as Net Nanny and PureSight PC let you monitor social media sites, block chats, filter content and much more. You can even monitor your child’s cell phone with a software program like My Mobile Watchdog.

Set some rules
If your kids are old enough to be using the computer on their own, they are old enough to understand that there are rules they need to abide by. Breaking them should not have a lesser consequence than if they break a rule in the offline world. The best way for families to agree on ground rules is to create a contract that all parties must sign. Parents and kids are encouraged to have an open discussion about what these rules mean.

Know your child’s habits
You don’t need to be a super sleuth and spy on your kid’s every online move, but it is important to be aware of the kinds of sites he is frequenting and the people they are associating with. You get to know the friends they are hanging out with at school, and their online friends shouldn’t be any different. One of the contract rules should be that you have full access to their Facebook friends and can take a look whenever you wish.

Keep computer in a central spot
It’s much easier to keep tabs on any online activity when the computer is located in a high-traffic zone than if your child is using it in the privacy of their own room. Place the computer in a central location like a family room so that everything is out in the open.

Urge your chidlren to avoid questionnaires, contests and free giveaways
A pop-up ad appears and tells kids they can win a free iPad by simply clicking the link. Anyone would be tempted by this kind of offer, but kids are particularly susceptible, so it’s important to warn kids against falling for this kind of Internet trick. Many of these ruses are attempts to glean personal information. Inform kids that even if they are forwarded a fun questionnaire from a friend, it’s best to close the window and not participate.

Monitor photos and posts online
In an ideal world, your child would never post a photo of themselves online, but that might not be entirely realistic. If she wants to share photos with they friends via email or a social networking site, be sure you know exactly which pictures are being posted. Make sure the content of the photo is completely innocuous and that no identifiable locales in the background are noticeable.

Be a good example
If you are tweeting and updating your Facebook page at a stop light and taking every opportunity to “just check something,” you’re setting a poor precedent for social media usage that your child will surely follow. Always remember to ask yourself if you’re setting a good example and demonstrating proper technology etiquette as well.

Limit using cell phone
Just as you would limit use of a computer, TV or gaming system, do the same with a cell phone. Set rules for the device, only allowing cell phone usage at certain hours in the evening or after homework has been completed. If you have teens of driving age, the most important rule to enforce is that under no circumstances should cell phones ever be used while driving. Phones should be kept off so incoming text sounds aren’t a distraction or should be kept in the glove compartment, out of reach.

Tell kids about online reputation
Many kids don’t seem to understand the permanence of the online world. Make sure to stress to your kids what a digital footprint is and the impact inappropriate messages or images could have if a future college administrator or employer were to stumble upon them. As stated in the AAP study, what goes online stays online.

Tell kids about online dangers
You may feel like you’re scaring your kids when talking to them about the dangers of being online, but it’s better for them to be scared than to be unaware. Having an open line of communication is crucial the minute your kids start using the Internet more independently.

Get to know technology
Kids have gained a mastery of technology so quickly and can easily pick up on the nuances that any new gadget have, far more easily than we can in some cases. It is every parent’s responsibility to know exactly which key features are included in the gadgets kids are using.





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