We need to talk with our children about being safe online. Children need boundaries to feel secure. The minimum age for Facebook and YouTube is 13 years, however these are the top two sites for under thirteen’s, where they spend approx. eighty minutes a day online according to recent studies.
First and foremost, don't allow under 13's on Facebook and Instagram. Meta's own rules state that each account holder must be at least 13 years old because children below that age are less likely to understand the rules and connotations of posting on Meta apps. If you allow your child to have an account after 13 years old, but you are uncertain that they can be trusted to act maturely, consider setting up a rule whereby you have to know their password if they want an account. This will allow you to see anything they do using the app, and any people they message.
Alternatively, you can set up your own account and become "friends" with them on Facebook and Instagram, so that you can see all of their posts and activity, but not their messages. If you do check their messages and history, then be upfront and tell them that you will be doing so. Don't be afraid to say no to something they want to do, or have already done on any social network. Set limits on the amount of time they can spend on the app, and maintain the authority to tell them to remove anything that you deem to be inappropriate.
For younger children, who you are certain do not need any form of social media, there are non-smart phones. Older style phones with physical buttons and little to no internet capabilities are still available and cheaper than ever (€20+). They will still be able to text and make calls, but they will not be able to access Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other social media that you may not want them using. you can limit their night time usage by requiring your child to leave their phone downstairs, charging when they go to bed, whether it be a smart phone or otherwise.
Know that you cant take something back after you post it. Even if you delete the post, there is no way for you to delete it completely. If you upload it, then Meta has it. If anyone else sees it, they can screenshot or save it. Parents need to tell their children/teens that they are responsible for their actions and accountable for whatever happens.
As a parent, no matter how much you want to turn back the clock you can’t and teens need to know therefore that the moment, they decide to hit the SEND or POST button that they will have to deal with the results of their actions.
It is bullying carried out using Internet, mobile phone.
The difference with cyber bullying is that the contact is 24/7, traditional bullying meant that home was a safe haven, now there is no safe haven as bullying comes into the phone or tablet at night and into the bedroom, and parents may be unaware that this is happening. When a comment is put up on Facebook, the speed of contact and the audience is huge.
Talk with your child/teen about the power and the responsibility of the bystander. Failure to speak up otherwise results in unintentional complicity. Teenagers questioned say they don’t speak up as they are afraid that they may be the bully’s next target, so remind them they can always ‘report and incident’ to a parent or teacher.
|This article was written by Sheila O Malley. Sheila owns Practical Parenting and offers courses, 1 to 1 support and School Talks as well as Company talks on Parenting and wellbeing. See www.practicalparenting.ie for details. Book a One Day Saturday course from 10-4pm with a friend or partner and get the tips to need to support you in the hardest job you ever do!