4 experts and 1 parent have answered
I recently watched the Catfish movie with my 13 year old daughter, I think there was enough in there for her to appreciate these things rarely have a happy ending. As with most things 'digital' i revert back to my basic rule around this stuff, would you behave or act like this in the real world?...the answer is nearly always no.
I try and get her to focus her energy on celebrating who she is and not who she wants to be.
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Have an open and honest relationship that entails good communication and explaining the online dangers to her. Also, some parents use parental control software on their kids' computer, phone and tablet. Here is a list of software that me be worth looking into.
Norton Online Family
McAfee All Access
K9 Web Protection
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I think you have to be really open with them about why you have to monitor their social media accounts. Texts and phone calls are private but social networks are not. Also you can kind of suspect they have multiple account when you don't see them posting things you know they would probably post about. Also you have to start with trust and go from there. Explain that their computer privileges, cell phones, ipods, ipads and whatever are PRIVILEGES and will be taken away if they break the rules. If they close and account and make a new one you must be added. Plus I would have passwords and usernames until age 16 AT LEAST. Make a contract of sorts, explain the rules and make sure there is no ambiguity. If your daughter continues to make multiple accounts to keep you out then no phone or computer. (OR if she HAS to have a phone make her switch to a flip phone with no internet.)
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I agree with Stacy, but it depends very much on the personality of the child. NOT all kids are going to get into trouble on social media. Starting early explaining how Facebook works setting up the correct privacy settings on Facebook so that complete strangers cannot see their profile is the first step, unfortunately very few parents know how to do this, but it's essential. Then teach your children to only share suitable content. Dissuade them from uploading pictures of themselves and their friends. It seems a bit tough, but person pictures on Facebook are often the very things that get your child bullied, and are taken by predators and shared elsewhere. Nothing is private on Facebook even with the strictest settings set up. One like and its gone out to a much larger audience. Supervision is essential on Facebook and education. Yes you can get spying apps for Facebook but as others have pointed out, false accounts can be set up so these are just a stop gap. And I'd only recommend them for teens that are at risk. Keep computers in the family room, and out of the bedroom until your Teen is more mature.