CV News

Kids and Social MediaBy: Haley Zapal

Some conversations you have with your children are simply unavoidable. Now, one of those unavoidable conversations is about social media.

Undoubtedly, at a certain age, your children will start asking to have social media. As their friends start to explore the digital world, it’s only natural your children will want to join the fun. And make no mistake, social media is fun — or it can be. Instagram can be an awesome way for your children to explore their interests, and TikTok can be an inspiring place to show off their talents. Not to mention, children often feel social media helps them stay connected to their friends’ lives.

But these positives can be overshadowed by the potential dangers that also come with social media. Being prepared is important. That’s why Bark put together some tips to help you introduce your children to social media.

Educate Yourself and Your Children About Possible Dangers

If you’re on any social media platforms, you probably know body shaming, foul language, and sexual content are commonplace.

You may also know that some child predators use social media to target children. It’s scary how common this is and how quickly a predator can form a bond with a child. One study found it can take just 8 minutes for this connection to occur. Keeping your children safe from online predators is one of the most challenging aspects of their social media involvement.

Your children may also be cyberbullied by peers as cyberbullying is prevalent among children online.

So, what can you do? As a parent, it is important to educate yourself about the possible dangers of social media and then educate your children. Know the potential dangers and openly communicate with them.

Study Different Social Media Platforms

You can educate yourself about social media platforms, even those you don’t use, by doing a Google search. There are lots of resources that can tell you about every platform, including Bark. The Bark blog covers apps, games, and important topics, such as mental health and dangerous internet trends.

One way to really understand the inner workings of a platform is to download the app and make an account. It might seem like a lot of work, but it might also be worth the effort. Familiarizing yourself with the app can give you more insight. If you decide your children can use the app, you’ll be better prepared to answer questions or if they run into issues. Plus, you can follow your children’s accounts to see what they’re posting and commenting on.

After doing your research, you should have an idea of the platforms you’re comfortable with your children having and those you’re concerned about. Now, it’s time to talk with your children.

Create a Tech Contract

A great way to clearly communicate with your children and set healthy boundaries is a tech contract. Sit down with your children and write out what expectations come with their access to social media. Here are some suggestions:

  • Platforms they can use freely
  • Platforms they can use with restrictions
  • Platforms they cannot use
  • Hours they can use each platform
  • Features that are on and off limits
  • Types of content they may view and/or share
  • How to handle friends, likes, followers, etc.
  • Private message guidelines

Take a look at this blog post for more guidance and a printable tech contract to get you started.

Actively Monitor Your Child’s Social Media Activity

Once your children are on social media, it is very important to stay in the loop about anything harmful or suspicious on their feeds. And that’s exactly where Bark steps in! Bark can monitor your children’s social media accounts and alert you to issues, such as cyberbullying, predatory comments, sexual content and more. It also gives you insight into your children’s digital worlds so you can understand them better.

Bark is available to Chariton Valley customers and noncustomers. To learn more or sign up, click here.