How do you keep your child safe online? Social media use is increasing and unfortunately groups and individuals are looking to exploit that to hurt others. It is more important than ever that we talk with our kids so they can be better prepared to protect themselves.
To start, try to understand what they’re using, how they are using it, and most importantly, why. To learn from our children, we need to have conversations with them. Unfortunately, according to a Canadian study, parents spend an average of just 3.5 minutes a week having meaningful conversations with their children. Here are some active listening exercises you can use to build these skills from the University of Rochester.
While having conversations with your child about social media, here are five questions AfterSchool.com suggests are worth asking and why:
1. Why do you use social media?
We often do things without thinking about why we’re doing them. Help your children consider the reasons behind their use and their goals surrounding social media. Do they want to stay close with their friends, hear gossip, get a date, or are they just using it because all of their friends are? Whatever their purpose or even if they aren’t sure why they use it, asking this question will help them contemplate why and give your insight into the reasons they use technology.
2. What’s your favorite thing about social media?
Do you know what your child likes about social media? There are bound to be a few things that they like best. Learn by asking them “what’s the best thing about social media,” and carefully listen to what they say.
3. What’s the worst thing about social media?
Similar to in-person communication, there are bound to be ups and downs with online communication. Ask your child what they believe is the worst thing about social media. This will help you understand what they have experienced, from bullying to seeing graphic images, in a respectful way. However, they respond, make sure you listen and don’t act rashly to what they may have gone through. Follow up question: What do you think can be done to change that?
4. What apps do you use? Why do you use them?
This is a question that will only receive an honest answer if you are carefully listening and understanding the importance of technology in your teen’s life. If there is even a chance you will take away their access to their phone or force them to delete apps, they will naturally want to protect their phone use, and not answer you truthfully. Assure them that you want to understand and support them, not punish them, when asking this question and learning what they use and why they use each.
5. Will you show me how it works?
Another question that requires that your teen completely trusts your intentions, asking them how an app works will help further the line of communication you’re building and strengthen your understanding of their social media habits.
WSD embraces the importance of the well-being of our Wissahickon community!