As the use of social media continues to increase, studies are being done to determine the impact it has on families, and in particular, kids. Studies have shown that there are benefits to kids using social media such as Facebook, as it can increase access to information and communication as well as helping kids to develop their sense of self. Social media can also have downsides, especially when used by kids, as it can increase the risks of cyberbullying, the sharing of private information, and possible exposure to content that is inappropriate. To keep kids safe on social media, and online in general, there are many things that parents can do including monitoring online activities.

Check Privacy Settings

Social media platforms such as Facebook provide users with the option to change privacy settings. Parents should make sure that privacy settings are set to the strictest possible levels. This also applies to the internet in general as privacy settings can also decrease the threat of computer viruses.

Know Your Child's Habits

Many parents don't want to spy on their childrens' every move online. If you don't want to spy, you should be aware of what sites your child frequents as well as their friends. When you know your child's friends, it is easier to monitor their social media activities to ensure they are not communicating with strangers. You should also request passwords to email and social media accounts so you can periodically check activity. When kids know they are being monitored, they may be less likely to engage in dangerous behavior online.

Consider Filtering Software

There are many different types of filtering software available that allow you to monitor your child's internet use. Different options have different features such a viewing keystrokes, sites visited, time spent online, and more. Many filtering software options also allow you to block chat features, and filter content. There are also products available for monitoring cell phones as well.

Set Rules

Children that are old enough to use the computer on their own should be old enough to understand rules. A good way to set clear rules is to come up with a contract that kids can sign which outlines all the rules. You should enforce the rules set forth and children should have a clear understanding of the consequences of breaking the rules.

Keep an Eye on Photos

It may not be possible to keep kids from posting pictures online altogether so it is important to keep an eye on any pictures that are being shared on social media. Parents should keep an eye on the content of any photos being posted as well as making sure that there are no easily identifiable locales to protect privacy.

Limit Computer and Cell Phone Use

While internet and social media use can be beneficial for kids, they should not spend all their time online. Limit the use of computers and cell phones by only allowing usage during certain hours.

Talk to Kids

Kids often don't understand the long term consequences of what they choose to share online. Talk with kids about their online reputation and how inappropriate photos or messages could impact them in the future. Kids need to understand that anything they post online will stay there forever. You should also be open with kids about the possible dangers of their online activity. While you don't want to scare them, it is better than them being unaware of potential dangers.

Keep Up With Technology

To monitor kids' online activity, you need to keep up to date on new technology which children often master more quickly. Make sure you know about all of the features and privacy settings of any devices your kids are using.

As the use of technology continues to increase at a fast pace, it is increasingly important to educate children on the dangers of using the internet, and to keep them safe. For more tips on keeping kids safe online, see the pages below.

Added by Gary Taylor