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Monitoring Your Kids Social Media Use

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The journal Pediatrics (from the American Academy of Pediatrics) has designed a website with recommendations for parents about their childrens’ use of social media and monitoring use. This blog report is from that AAP web site:

Share a bit about your daily social media (SM) use as a way to facilitate daily conversation about your kids’ online habits. Get your kids talking about their SM lives if you can, just so you know what they are doing.

Keep the computer in a public part of your home, such as the family room or kitchen, so that you can check on what your kids are doing online and how much time they are spending there.

Talk with other parents about what their kids of similar ages are using for SM. Ask your kids about those technologies as a starting point for discussion.

If they are in the same peer group, there is a good chance they are all using the same platforms together. For example, for teens: “Mrs. Smith told me Jennifer uses Facebook. Is that something you’ve thought of doing? Do you already have a profile? If so, I’d like to see it.”

For tweens and older elementary school kids: “Are you planning on meeting up with kids on Club Penguin today? I’d love to see how that works.” Or, “Let’s look at your text log today together. I’d like to see who’s been texting you.”

For all ages, emphasize that everything sent over the Internet or a cell phone can be shared with the entire world, so it is important they use good judgment in sending messages and pictures and set privacy settings on social media sites appropriately.

Discuss with kids of every age what “good judgment” means and the consequences of poor judgment, ranging form minor punishment to possible legal action in the case of “sexting” or bullying. Remember to make a point of discouraging kids from gossiping, spreading rumors, bullying or damaging someone’s reputation using texting or other tools.

To keep kids safe, have your kids and teens show you where the privacy features are for every SM venue they are using. The more private, the less likely inappropriate material will be received by your child, or sent to their circle of acquaintances.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.