Kids and social networking sites creates worry and moments of concern for most parents. How old is old enough to have a social networking site page? Are they safe? What if my child sees something he or she shouldn’t?
The age your child should have a MySpace, FaceBook or Twitter (or any of the other social networking site pages) is something you’ll have to base on your own experiences and the maturity level of your child. However, there are some precautions you can take to protect your child.
- Have a serious discussion beforehand. Explain what you feel is and is not acceptable. Set down some rules, such as that the child has to add you as a friend and you get access to his or her passwords. It is also a good idea to insist their profile is only visible to friends and that the child only accepts as friends people he or she has met personally and not “online” friends.
- Sit down with your child to create the actual page. Explain why they should not give out their phone number, address or any other information that might make the child easily trackable by a predator.
- Monitor all aspects of the page until you feel confident that the child is using the site wisely and then check periodically. This isn’t snooping, it is for your child’s protection. You should monitor blog posts, moods, pictures, videos and bulletins and notes.
- Don’t be afraid to take the social networking away. If your child begins approving forty year olds that he or she doesn’t know, it might be time to take the page away or limit Internet access.
While online networking is now an important part of most teens’ lives, it’s important that the youth learns what is and isn’t acceptable. Remember that you are trying to train your child for the day when he will be out on his own. You want to help him learn to discern people’s intentions and what he should or shouldn’t be involved in. If you guide him now, he will have these skills when he is grown. Happy networking!