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Whether you like it or not, social media and internet have become a major part of the youth’s life. Compared to our childhood times, kids these days have born into a very different world. It’s not a surprise that many parents all around the globe have been confused with how to deal with the situation. They need a social media guide for parents.

At the same time social media and internet have benefits and downsides. They can be utilized for example in learning, socializing, communicating, passing time, creating one’s identity and countless other productive ways. Most likely we don’t even know all their possible uses and new potential will emerge.

In the meantime, we have come to know the dangers and negative effects internet and social media have. Cyberbullying, internet addiction, access to adult content, grooming, self-image issues… The list of the dangers of internet for kids goes on and on.

The situation is here to stay. Getting rid of the internet and social media just isn’t a realistic solution. That’s why we need to teach kids to use internet safely. While we here at F-Secure don’t claim to know better how to raise your child, we are experts in internet security. That’s why we have compiled this social media guide for parents. You can use these 7 tips to teach your children to use internet safe.

1. Gain trust

To kids, internet and social media can feel like their own place, where adults and parents don’t belong. But as a parent you are responsible of the children’s safety. It’s important for them to know that. That’s why it’s important to gain the child’s trust. Giving reasons why you are checking on their internet habits instead of just setting strict limits can go a long way.

In the meantime, it’s important to remember that children are entitled to privacy as well. It’s often up to you to decide where the lines are drawn, but do keep the child’s privacy in mind. Children of different ages have different needs. At some point, you will need to back down and give them more space.

It’s very important for your kids to know that when they encounter something unpleasant, they can come to you. Gaining and maintaining their trust to let you in their internet habits is beneficial in multiple ways. For both the parents and the children.

2. Set an example

To raise your child to behave well you need to behave well yourself. The same goes with internet. If you don’t want your child to learn questionable behavior, you might want to consider if you can improve yours. “Do as I say, not as I do” isn’t always a good way to go.

You can start from thinking what you do and share in your own social media channels. It’s good to remember that sharing too much can be dangerous to you and your child. For example, posting funny anecdotes and pictures of your children might seem like it’s harmless, but they can be used to do harm. Your child can be bullied based on the things you share, and the pictures ca be hijacked and posted on questionable web pages. And let’s not forget that your child has rights to privacy as well.

3. Educate yourself about social media

Chances are, that since you are reading this social media guide for parents, you are already doing something to educate yourself. Great job! But don’t stop here. It’s important for you to know what social media services your children are using. When you know the dangers and benefits you can better understand the situation. Additionally, you get to know the world your children are living in.

There are quite many apps children use that we adults have no idea about. A good way to get to know them a bit better is to ask your child to teach you about them. You get first-hand user guidance, get to know how the apps work, and you get to do something together. If that doesn’t sound like a good idea, you can also check videos from YouTube.

4. Educate your children as well

Children may not be aware of all the possible risks related to social media, such as collecting user information, fraud, or just how vast the reach of internet can be. What is posted in the internet may never be deleted.

One thing that is important for your children to know when they start to use internet is that privacy is not a default. Most apps and services are gathering data about their users, and hardly anything in the internet should be treated as private information. Children should be taught to avoid giving personal information when not necessary. This is not only to avoid tracking. When they communicate with strangers, they might give out too much information about themselves.

Another important thing your children should know is that actions in the internet have consequences just like in the real world. For example, bullying in the internet is just as harmful to the victims. Some actions can have legal consequences, and kids should be aware of possible age restrictions and why they exist.

Finally, children should know that not everything they read in the internet is necessarily real. Healthy source criticism may come only with age, but it’s important to learn to question from early on. Even more importantly, they should know that not everyone in the internet is who they say they are.

5. Accidents will happen – it’s up to you how you react

As we know, internet is full of dangers. You can be sure that your child will encounter negative things. There is much they aren’t supposed to see in their age. It is important to let your child know that when something bad happens, they should come to you.

Children are curious by nature, and accidents will happen. If you chastise them for it, they might not dare to tell you next time. It’s better to give them praise for their courage to tell you. You can give them this advice in case they encounter bad things in the internet:

  • Close the browser immediately
  • Talk to an adult
  • Do not share personal information, such as the name of your school, home address, location, or photographs. Those should only be shared with people you know.
  • Never meet in person with people you have only met online without the permission or presence of an adult

It is very important for the children to have a trusted adult they can talk to. And not only the negative things, but their joy and success too. Social media is important to our children. It’s good for them if you show interest in their activities. After all, the best way for children to learn to use internet safely is when they use it.

6. Set rules

When you get your child their first device or a new one, you can make a physical contract with them about its use in exchange of buying it. This sets clear rules about what is allowed, what is not and what are the consequences of breaking the rules. This will also teach your children about real life skills. Here are some points to cover:

  • Location data should be kept off in all services
  • Always be fully clothed in front of a camera
  • Be suspicious of friend requests by strangers
  • Always ask your parents’ permission before meeting any online acquaintances
  • You need to have their permission before you take a photo of someone
  • You also need permission before sharing someone else’s pictures or information
  • Don’t bully anyone
  • Download new games or apps only after getting permission from a parent

7. F-Secure helps you enforce family rules

If you want to have better control over what kind of content your child is able to access on their device, you can use F-Secure SAFE. Its Family Rules function blocks all apps and websites not allowed by you to be installed on the device. This makes it harder for your children to get access to adult content.

And if you don’t want your children to spend too much time on their device, family rules can help you with this. You can set time limits for device use with F-Secure SAFE. You can also make sure that the device can’t be used during nighttime, so that your children will get enough sleep.

F-Secure SAFE and the family rules functions are also included in F-Secure TOTAL cyber security package. TOTAL also includes a VPN that protects your privacy, a password manager and a lot more. F-Secure TOTAL is an effective and effortless way to keep your children and devices safe from internet threats.

 

Luciano Hernández

07.02.20 4 min. read

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