A survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that kids between the ages of 8 to 18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes daily on internet-enabled devices – listening to music, posting, chatting, and commenting on social media.
Unfortunately, the internet never forgets! Once anything is posted, it goes public and sticks to the mind of the reader even if it’s later deleted. This is why as a parent, it is your responsibility to check what your child does on social media, and teach them how to use social media and obey its etiquette.
Here’s a short guide for your child on how to use social media properly:
1. First things first, remember that everything you post online is public. It doesn’t matter whether or not you delete the messages after publishing – it’s already a cyber fingerprint.
2. Speak kindly to the person on the other side of the screen.
3. DON’T USE ALL CAPS when you’re posting. All CAPS is the equivalent of shouting.
4. It’s not a good idea to post something when you’re angry or emotional. Take some time to clear your head before you deal with the situation in order to avoid using hurtful words that you’ll later regret.
5. Understand social media, its uses and how it can affect one’s future if misused. This will help you only post things that are meaningful and helpful to the people on your contact list.
6. Use different usernames and passwords on different platforms for maximum protection; so if someone figures out your security information, they’ll not have access to all your pages.
7. Don’t make up silly email addresses. Bear in mind that you will need that email address as an adult for college applications, job applications, resumes, and scholarship opportunities.
8. Don’t post pictures of yourself or others unless you mind them being shared with everyone. This includes pictures of you in compromising conditions. As a parent, try to review your child’s photos and texts before they are published online.
9. Don’t talk to strangers online. If you receive personal messages from someone you don’t know personally, asking you to be friends with them. Do well to show your parents or older siblings about it.
10. Think before you share anything: Young people look at social media as an opportunity to make their voices heard. They should have an understanding of the process reporters and writers follow before an article is published: writing and self-editing, submitting drafts, working with editors, and remaining disciplined and focused on style, facts, and grammar.
11. Don’t get into chat rooms and reveal confidential things about yourself. Never share your full name, home address, phone number, Social Security number, passwords, names of family members, or credit card numbers.
12. Don’t believe everything you see online: some might just be rumours or publicity stunts to create conversations.
13. Be a voice for GOOD ONLY!
14. Set time limits for social media tours and don’t get caught up with cyberspace madness.