The Secret Life of Kids Online: What You Need to Know
A new report from the AAP clues parents into what their kids are really doing online. Good news: it's not all bad! Read on for social networking and online safety tips to protect your kids on the Net. Plus, learn how to spy on your child online
But the right parental interaction and involvement can ensure that won’t happen. Here’s how to help your child use social media and game sites to her advantage:
Get schooled: Immerse yourself in the technology so you know how to create a profile, ‘friend’ your child, and be a part of her online life. She may insist that you don’t embarrass her by posting on her wall for her friends to see, for instance, but that’s okay. You still get a window into her world
Model it: If you’re constantly on the cell or computer, your kid will want to be, too. Limit your time so you can help your child strike a balance with her own use.
Power down: Insist that family meals are device-free and set reasonable bedtimes. “Children and adolescents don’t get enough sleep as it is, so staying up half the night on line certainly doesn’t help,” says Dr. Clarke-Pearson.
Chat her up: Don’t rely exclusively on a ‘net nanny’ program to keep you up-to-date on her activity. Instead, ask who she’s texting or IM’ing lately and share some of your own social media experiences (she just may open up about hers).
Go public: Keep the computer centrally located (like in the family room or kitchen) so you can check on the sites she visits and the amount of time spent there.
Be kind: Discourage meanness, gossiping, and posting anything that’s untrue or potentially harmful or embarrassing. Remind your child that there’s no real privacy online—every email, text or IM leaves a digital footprint, which future employers and colleges might access.
Take action: Get the latest online safety information at cybersafebook.com.