More and more minors are increasingly using smartphones, tablets, and computers. The upside is that there is increased connectivity because of social networking sites for kids. The downside is that it exposes them to various problems associated with social networking and Internet use.
Dangers of Internet Activity
Many people, including adults and children do not understand that their information on social networking sites is not anonymous and may expose them to various problems. Here are some reasons why you should snoop on your kids.
Sexual PredatorsThe use of social networking sites increases the potential for children to be victimized or behave inappropriately. Most smartphones can be used to send normal texts as well as chat on social media. This means that a teenager can multitask by texting as well as chatting on social media. Many young people do not understand the dangers of posting their personal information or pictures on social networking sites. Sexual predators often use personal information of minors on the Internet to manipulate them.
Illegal ActivitiesThe fact that many people, including teenagers, think that the information they put on social media is anonymous, may encourage them to do things or behave in ways that they might not in person. This may include posting offensive comments, racial slurs, or even engage in cyber bullying. Although kids may not know it at the time, such actions may not only be destructive and cruel but also criminal. Although some social networking sites may block users who are behaving in ways that are criminal or offensive, parental monitoring is still necessary to ensure that your child does not use poor judgment.
Inappropriate Language and ContentSome social networking sites do not censor users’ posts or language. Kids using social networking sites without parental monitoring risk being exposed to inappropriate content and language including pornography, alcohol, and overt sexual content and images. Some children lack the maturity to sort out potentially inappropriate or manipulative content. Some may even share overtly sexual images and messages that in some cases may be illegal.
Sleep DeprivationExcessive use of social media may promote sleep deprivation, anxiety and other emotional problems. Many teenagers sleep with their phones under their pillows or on their beds so that they can easily access their phones anytime of the night to chat and surf through social networking sites.
Some teens chat with their friends and even strangers into the late hours of the night. Social networking has a high potential for addiction because it provides immediate gratification of chat responses. It is important for parents to monitor social media use and insist that their kids turn off their smartphones, tablets, or computers after certain hours.
Other Behavior IssuesIf you have concerns about your child’s behavior, even those that are not related to social media use, it may be paramount to monitor their use of social networking sites.
Children who hide their social media profiles, refuse to let their parents see their profiles, or are dishonest about their smartphone use may be engaging in potentially risky behavior. When your child starts making poor choices in life such as drinking, smoking or skipping school, then he/she is probably making poor choices in social media as well.
Photo Credit: Petras Gagilas
How to Track Your Child's Internet Activity
As a parent, it is necessary to keep your children out of harassing via information technology. Let’s take a look how to track what your child does online.
Random Walk-InsWalk into your child’s room once a while when he does not expect it. This will give your child little or no time to hide what he is doing. This will help keep your child off the websites that he is not allowed to visit. However, this method should be used in combination with other monitoring techniques.
Check Browser HistoryCheck your child’s browser history after he has used his computer. You can do this by clicking history at the browser menu and then clicking “show all history”. Your will get results of all the websites including social networking sites that your child visited. Although this may not show you what your child looked at while on social networking sites, it is still valuable information because you will be able to see the social media pages that your child visited.
Familiarise With the Social PlatformsSend your child a friend request or follow him on social media. Once your become a friend with your child or follow him, you will have full access to his profile and even social media activities. This will give you invaluable information on who his friends are and how she talks on social networking sites. Look over past social media posts of your child. Once your child becomes your friend on social media, you can read all his past posts to make sure he is not using inappropriate language on social media. It will also help you understand if your child is being cyber-bullied.
Internet Activity MonitorConsider purchasing and installing an internet activity monitor or child protection software on your child’s computer. This will give you authority to determine the websites that your child can access on the Internet.
Engage Your Child in an Open DialogueHave an open discussion with your child about social networking and whom he talks to on the Internet. In addition, keep your child’s computer in an open place and actively supervise his activities on social media. Know the social media pages that your child has joined as well as the games and applications that he uses. Find out if the pages, games, and applications are appropriate for your child.
Talk to your child and explain the importance of safety on social media. Guide her choices, listen to her needs, and adapt to them without compromising her online safety. Participate in your child’s social media activities and know whom she is communicating with online.
No Underage Social Media UseChildren below the age of 13 are not permitted to sign-up on social networking sites. However, it is very difficult for social networking sites to enforce this rule because some children lie about their year of birth. As a parent, you need to make sure that your child does not join social media until he is 13 and you are comfortable with him having a social media account.
Check Privacy SettingsCheck the privacy settings for your child’s social media site and make sure they are set appropriately. This will not only protect your child’s social media activities, but it will also protect your computer from viruses and malware.
Many children engage with social networking sites at an early age and it is important for parents to guide and monitor the activities. As a parent, you can snoop on your child’s social media activities to ensure that his communications are safe and appropriate.
About The Author: Riya is a stay-at-home mom with 1 little girl. She is also a freelance writer and now writing for yourtown, the company where delivers services that tackle issues affecting the lives of children and young people. In her pastime, she always enjoys reading, cooking, pocketbooks and playing with her cat. Check out her Twitter.