Monday, February 24, 2014

Underage socializing

I know several parents who have secured social media accounts in their children's names, intending them to be gifts once their children reach the appropriate age.

I am not directing comments to those people. (One question though: Do you continue to get accounts for your child when new social media sites gain popularity? Because that sounds like an exhausting hobby/chore.)

I am worried about the underage children who are on social media: The preteens who worry about their facebook updates, the future photographers with SnapChat accounts, the succinct set that have toyed with Twitter, not to mention the chatterbox children making "friends" through gaming devices online.

To the parents of those children, I ask them to start a conversation with their children about being socially savvy. Start the conversation early; have the conversation often. You see, a recent study by the online safety advisory website Knowthenet has found that more than half of children have used an online social network by the age of 10.

(Age 10!? What was I doing at age 10? I'd tell you, but I sound enough like an old curmudgeon as it is.)

So, let's talk about the safety tips that need to be discussed during social media conversations:
  • Not giving out personal information. The facelessness of being online makes people forget not to give out personal details - children included.
  • What you and your spouse use the Internet for. Lead by example.
  • Educate yourself. Try and learn what services are the most popular, so you can talk to your child intelligently about them.
Got any more safety tips for social media use conversations? Leave them in the comments.

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