Is your child begging for a cell phone? You know what they want it for? No, it’s probably not so they can call mom or dad throughout the day for a chat. They want it for all those social me-dia apps that “all they other kids” are using.
It’s a hard decision. You want to stay in touch with your child and be able to reach them immediate-ly. And you also want to give them the comfort of knowing that you are just a call or text away. Any-way, you can monitor that social media stuff, right?
It could be all good, except when it’s not. A 38-year-old Venice, Florida man was arrested when police received a tip from a horrified parent that the "12-year-old boy" that their 11-year-old daughter had been Snap-chatting might not really be 12 years old... and she had been sending explicit photos of herself to the man. When detectives raided his home, they found nude photos of children on his electronic devices.
As scary as this can be, it’s like real life sexual abuse; it’s not the stranger lurking in the corner, but the fa-miliar friend you should be worried about. Making the decision to allow your child or tween to have a phone comes with a lot of responsibility. There are ways to help protect your child using parental controls, but it is just as important to talk with your child. Tell them about the dangers.
Put boundaries and expectations in place, and tell your kids why you're doing it. And yes, as a parent, you have the right and responsibility to monitor what they are doing.
Here are some tips to help keep your family protected, and these should apply to the whole family:
- Set time limits. - Know what apps your child has downloaded.
- Be aware of fake accounts that your child might set up. Ask them about “Instagram.”
- Have healthy conversations often about the dangers of social media.
- Have a discussion about Cyber-bullying. Beforeit happens!
- No phones in the bedroom at night. Phones should go in the kitchen to charge, parents in-cluded. Set the example.
- Every phone in the home should have the same password. Any family member should be able to check another family members phone when-ever they request to, parents included.
For more information and guidelines on social media, visit guardchild.com. This is a site ded-icated to protecting children in the digital age.