Social media, it seems to be everywhere! Be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat there is always some new development or controversy making headlines about a social networking site or app. Through our work at Zeeko we often hear from parents who are overwhelmed by the amount of apps, games and social networking sites that their children are accessing. Social media use in particular, can be a challenge to negotiate with your child and parents are often understandably concerned about what the use of social media open their children up to. So what are the things you should bear in mind when talking to your child about their use of social media?

Firstly, it is important to maintain an open communication style with your child or teen when it comes to all aspects of internet safety, but this is particularly true of the use of social media. If your child feels that they can speak honestly and openly with you about what they experience when using social media, then that is a great starting place. It is also important particularly where teenagers are concerned to remind them that what they see via social media is only a snap shot of a person’s life. Having perspective on what they view online is crucial, as it impacts their own behaviour online and also can have a negative impact on their mental health. Also, try to encourage your teenager to remember that what they post online may have a long term impact on their future in terms of things like career progression. It can, understandably be very easy to get carried away by social media posting, sharing and commenting but remind your child that for the most part it is not easy to permanently delete or remove content they have posted online.

One major concern for parents about children or teenagers using social media is the area of stranger danger. For younger children regularly remind them of the importance of never speaking to someone they don’t know online. If they do experience something nasty online they should use the Stop, Block, Tell Rule. With teenagers it is probably more effective to remind them of the importance of behaving in the same way that they do online as when they are offline. For example, treating people with respect, not interacting with someone they have never met when they are online, implementing the same boundaries that they would use when they are not online and being conscious of how others around them are behaving online, will all help them to stay safe.

Safety settings are not always mentioned where social media is concerned but most of the social networking sites have ways to set users accounts so that their privacy is enhanced. Also, users can activate a block feature on most sites, to stop unwanted contact. Helping your child to make informed choices about what they share and who they share it with will be the best way to ensure that they can stay safe when using social media.