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Here is how to keep your child safe on social media

By HT School Web Desk,

Without proper precautions, these social media sites can pose serious threats to the safety of youngsters.

When kids have more scope of social interaction, the risk of bullying increases.

Sharing personal information on social media handles through images, videos, text posts or messages is part and parcel of the life of today’s kids and teenagers.  Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Twitter have opened up the whole world to them and enabled the youth to use the power of networking to their advantage. However, if not used judiciously and with proper precautions, these social media sites can pose serious threats to the safety and mental health of youngsters. Unfortunately, they aren’t always able to fathom the risks of indiscriminate use of these networking platforms. So, as parents, you need to understand the technologies applied on these sites, make your kids aware of the dangers and help them stay safe on their favourite online platforms. Here, we guide you to do so.  

Set some ground rules 

Kids often blur the line between ‘personal’ and ‘public’ while it comes to sharing information on social media handles. Also, they lose sight of the fact that they will have little control over anything that they post online. It may be shared multiple times by others on various platforms. So, as parents, you need to make them understand the difference between private and public information while making them aware of the dangers of sharing something personal. They need to know that it can be misused by strangers or people who they know very little about.  

Also, you should help your child use the right language while posting something online sending a message. A thought, expressed in an inappropriate manner may lead to misrepresentation and land him up in trouble. It can even lead to digital violence.  Lastly, and most importantly, teach your teenager about the importance of checking authenticity before sharing any news. Spreading rumours online is bad digital etiquette and may also invite serious risks.      

Supervise your child’s social media activities 

This is very crucial to keep youngsters safe on social media. First of all, you need to know the networking apps they are using. There are various parental control tools that will help you keep a track of and control your child’s online activities. Do research on these tools before choosing the right one. Discussing with other parents about them can be a good option. Additionally, try to maintain a friendly equation with your teenager in a balanced way. This will help her open up to you about her social media life. Initiate casual conversations about your online friends. This will encourage her to talk to you about the friends she talks to on social media.  

Help kids create strong passwords 
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A strong password will protect your child’s social media accounts from being hacked. Here are some golden rules: 

  • The password needs to be long
  • Common words, grammatically correct coinages, sequential characters on the keyboard, dates and phone numbers should be avoided 
  • A combination of symbols, uppercase and lower case should be used  

Protect them from online bullying 

Bullying is the reality of almost every child’s life, be it in school or on social media. When kids have more scope of social interaction, the risk of bullying increases. On these networking sites, bullying can take place in the form of rejection too. So, you need to keep your eyes open to watch out for the signs of this vice. Here are essential signs of bullying to watch out for:  

  • Withdrawal from the surroundings 
  • Frequent mood bouts 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Suffers from anxiety and fear of loss 
  • Troubled sleep and bad dreams 
  • Low self-esteem 

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