Social media can be a touchy topic these days, but it is also inescapable. Many people use social media primarily for keeping in touch. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram can allow friends and families, especially those that live over great distances, stay in close communication despite living in different parts of the country or the world. Being able to share family photos or more immediate, everyday moments can make it feel like you are a part of your loved ones’ lives despite whatever physical distances separate you, but there are plenty of downsides to social media as well.
Social media can be an addiction for many people, and it can also cause depression and feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth. Many posts on social media are curated to a degree and only highlight positive parts of a person’s life. False ideas about the quality of others’ lives has proven to be detrimental to people of all ages, but young teens most of all.
While parents of children who are younger and may not be old enough to have social media accounts of their own yet, it is still important that parents are aware of their own activities on social media. Parents often share photos and funny stories about their children and others in their family, but it is vital that parents are mindful of what they post. While certain topics or themes may simply be inappropriate for social platforms, it is also important that parents are aware of the impact that their own posts on social media may have on their children when they are older.
Before making a post, think about how it will impact your child in the present and in the future. Some issues may be simple and involve asking yourself a quick question such as “Will this funny photo be worth posting in the long run? Will the likes and laughs outweigh my child’s potential embarrassment that this exists on the internet?” to more serious concerns about sharing too much information regarding not only your children but your friends and family that could be used by people looking to harm them.
It helps to be well-versed in general internet safety. Never overshare. Never reveal personal information or contact info. Be aware of what information these social media sites may share with others and how accessible your profiles are. It helps to comb through your social media accounts and review your security settings. Consider setting your profile to private, sharing information only with those you know and trust. Cut back on social media usage and screen every post or picture you consider putting up on the internet. There are many guidelines available regarding internet safety and knowhow, and for parents with older kids and teens who have their own social media accounts, it helps to share this information with them as well.
Parents need to be just as mindful as their kids when it comes to social media. Stay informed and learn about the security ins and outs of the platforms you use. Being self-aware, mindful, and considerate can help make your experience on the internet much safer and fulfilling while also protecting your children.