Remember the times when the most awkward conversation between parents and children was the “birds and the bees” one? In today’s times, a great deal of addenda needs to be added to that conversation. Telling kids that they shouldn’t share lascivious posts or use Facebook to meet strangers are just some examples of the typical parent’s headaches when it comes to social network monitoring.
The question is: should parents still bother?
Let’s face it; numerous reports are saying that Facebook is not “cool” anymore for the young generation. From a place of self-expression, a hangout of the “in” crowd, it has now become littered with parents and even grandparents that post the most embarrassing anecdotes and advice for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
Even Facebook has admitted that teens are not finding the website cool anymore. The logical question that follows is, if teens are leaving Facebook, where are they going?
Snapchat, Tumblr, and Instagram are three of the leading social media sites that teens nowadays prefer. Snapchat is an instant messaging service, Tumblr is a blogging website, and Instagram is a popular photo-sharing service. The three sites offer features that are found in Facebook but come without the parental supervision that teens hate.
Snapchat is an app that lets users send a text, photo, or video that self-destructs within 10 seconds. Think Mission Impossible. Due to this self-destruct feature, Snapchat has become infamous as the “sexting” app, with numerous reports saying that teens use the app to send less than chaste pictures of themselves.
Tumblr is host to numerous personal blogs and interest groups, some of which may not be suitable for minors. Similarly, while Instagram is relatively a tame app, the spread of a single photo is often unchecked and users just never know how many people are seeing a picture of them.
Another important thing to consider is that even though there are laws in place to protect children less than 13 years of age, most websites require users to certify that they are at least 13 years of age in order to sign up, which effectively exempts them from the said laws. We all know however that most kids just ignore the warning and sign up to Facebook and other similar social networks even though they are underage.
The most important thing to consider is that the Internet is not a private place. The earlier children get that ingrained in their minds, the better. Instead of hounding children on Facebook, instill morals and obligations instead. Set firm rules about posting rude words or nudity. Use a journal or diary to vent instead of a blog post. Have privacy and security at the forefront of kids’ mind and they should be able to practice safe surfing.
To the parents out there, what’s your take regarding online child safety? Do you have any tips or practices that you’d like to share with us? Tell us your thoughts below.