We are living in the 21st century and today’s child is far more intelligent, aware, more traveled [I am talking here of the city kids]. Social networking sites especially face book has become an important part of our lives. Whatever one may say the children are always one step ahead of us so how should we tackle this issue?
Face book, twitter etc etc are a part of everyone’s life and most of the discussions are focused towards keeping them away from the children..Can you do it? Can you justify that to yourself when you yourself are using these sites?
We in India love living with double standards where what is good for me is not good for the children. That is the reason that more and more children are addicted to this without even understanding the consequence. We behave more like an ostrich that ducks every time faced with a question that we feel is not appropriate for the kids to know. At least 70% parents I have met want to be friends with their children on FB just to keep a track on them …Tell me who will like being stalked by their parents …..Parents are scared to have an open discussion and would try and keep a tab on them like this …
We need to keep ourselves updated with the latest and instead of restricting the kids my advice is let us be open and explain to them it’s advantages and disadvantages. There is no use blocking them as they will discover newer ways of reaching there. Human psychology is such that whatever is restricted is always more tempting not only for children but adults too. My views might sound radical to many but then I like to be forward thinking and believe very strongly that children understand logical reasons.
Social media present risks and benefits to children but parents who try to secretly monitor their kids’ activities online are wasting their time, according to a presentation at the 119th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.
Thus have an open discussion with the children as they love it when we instead of advising them show them that we trust them and whatever we are saying is for their benefit. Restrictions never work.
My strong recommendation to parents, that if you feel that you have to use some sort of computer program to surreptitiously monitor your child’s social networking, you are wasting your time. Your child will find a workaround in a matter of minutes. You have to start talking about appropriate technology use early and often and build trust, so that when there is a problem, whether it is being bullied or seeing a disturbing image, your child will talk to you about it
I encourage parents to assess their child’s activities on social networking sites, and discuss removing inappropriate content or connections to people who appear problematic. Parents also need to pay attention to the online trends and the latest technologies, websites and applications children are using.
Below is some information for parents about social networking sites: what they are and how they are accessed, potential dangers to be aware of and how to protect your child while they visit such websites.
Bullying, wrong doings are more common amongst children who do not have an open atmosphere at home.
Privacy is always a concern for any communication exchange carried out online and children often do not understand the risks involved in giving out too much personal information on the Internet. This is of particular worry when such information is given to an individual who your child does not know personally to; they may argue that someone is an online ‘friend’ but to all intents and purposes that person is effectively a stranger. To many children the online world isn’t the same as the real world and they can often behave in a way they would never do face to face, and say things they would never say, leaving them much more vulnerable in an online environment. They may also be less protective of personal details such as their mobile phone number or address, which could have undesirable implications for them.
Unfortunately some users can harness social networking sites to carry out ‘cyber-bullying’ where malicious comments are posted online about an individual and/or that user receives abusive messages or other content. Some tech-savvy users may even be able to hack into another user’s account to harass them so it’s important your child is aware of these dangers and understands they must be reported as soon as possible. As social networking allows people to take on a different online persona, this can encourage individuals who wouldn’t be a bully in the real world to take part in unpleasant activities because their real identity can be covered up.
Another risk is that of cyber-stalking, or harassment on the Internet.
The Internet provides access to all kinds of content at the click of a mouse – but not all of that content is suitable for children and young people to see. While you may have the appropriate parental controls set up on your computer your child may still be able to access inappropriate material if someone in their social networking circle makes it available to them.
The most distressing threat to a young person’s safety on social networking sites is that of online grooming. Sadly the possibilities for anonymity that the Internet offers means that pedophiles use social networking sites and chat rooms to befriend children and teenagers, gaining their trust online with a view to then making actual physical contact with that child. By using highly deceptive means, i.e pretending they are the same age as the child they are communicating with, they will find out information about that child – where they hang out, which school they attend etc. Once a predator has gained the trust of a child they morph from ‘buddy to bully’, exposing children to inappropriate sexual imagery and content, and manipulating them into doing what they want.
Identity theft isn’t limited to adults and now that more and more children and young people are using the Internet regularly they are becoming more vulnerable to this very serious crime. The naive posting of personal details on your child’s social networking profile leaves them open to online identity theft so it’s absolutely vital your child never gives out personal details in any online context, including their address, phone numbers, email, and, if they are older, any bank or credit card information.
In addition to the above it’s worth considering how your child may be impacted emotionally by frequent usage of social networking sites. Some experts have warned that sites such as Facebook can have a negative effect on children who are less confident and self-assured, as they can equate their happiness and success as individuals with how many friends they have on Facebook. Even if a child isn’t being bullied as such, they can experience self-esteem issues if their online network isn’t as big as their friends, or they have been excluded from a certain online group.
There are also concerns that young people are substituting their online relationships for physical ones, by spending more time in front of the computer than they do in the real world. And by not having to work at friendships, ironing out problems together when they arise - as is the case in the real world (on social networking sites you simply delete someone from your list of friends) - there is a worry that young people are losing their empathy and not developing the social and emotional skills necessary they’ll need as adults.
My serious advice to parents is setting some ground rules on home internet usage and showing some interest and understanding of your child’s online activities you’ll be helping to ensure their online experiences are as safe and happy as possible.
General tips for parents
- Take a look at or sign up for some of the social networking sites yourself to get a feel for what they’re all about. It’s important that parents don’t feel left behind by new technologies, or intimidated by them because they think they’re not aimed at an older user. You’ll feel much more comfortable about your child using social networking sites if you understand some of the terminology and how they work.
- It’s also a good idea to take a look at the privacy information or safety tips provided on the social networking sites themselves. You’ll then have a clear idea about how each site would help you if your child was the victim of online bullying, for example, or what measures they have taken to protect your child’s privacy.
- Engage with your children about their experiences on the Internet, without making it seem like you’re snooping on them. Show interest in their online activities so they feel comfortable about sharing experiences with you. This way your child will not feel worried about speaking to you should any issue or problem arise, such as online bullying or being sent inappropriate content.
- Try to set limits on Internet usage at home. It’s not a good idea for children to spend inordinate amounts of time in front of a screen, be it TV, games console or computer so make sure you set house rules on how the Internet is to be used at home: which sites can be visited, how long each member can spend on the computer, etc..
- Help your child to feel confident about their place in the online community. Make sure that, just as in the real world, it’s important they never follow the herd if they’re uncomfortable about doing something. Peer pressure can make children publish information they may not wish to broadcast,.
Social media present risks and benefits to children but parents who try to secretly monitor their kids’ activities online are wasting their time.
Communication is the crux of parenting. You need to talk to your kids, or rather, listen to them. The ratio of parent listen to parent talk should be at least five-to-one. Talk one minute and listen for five.
Yep, the bottom line is that technology is here to stay and in fact will only get faster and more complex. By parents giving their children the best gift… the power to relate, they may not stop the technology train but they will give them back what we as human beings were born to do… relate to one another in loving, caring, compassionate ways building real connections.
Excelsior American School