Social Media Savvy

On the 19th of March 2016, SU Pietermaritzburg hosted an event addressing the dangers of social media for children and presented tips for parents and caregivers on how to manage the online presence of teenagers and how to put systems in place to protect themselves from online predators. We had Ian Loots present solar power options to reduce electricity consumption and prepare for load shedding. Ian also presented a shopping saving option using one card at various shops.

The event was largely a success however many of those who responded did not pitch up at the event however those in attendance felt the evening was beneficial.

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Cyberbullying

  • Kids should never share Internet passwords with anyone other than parents
  • If a child keeps getting harassing emails, delete that email account and set up a new one. Remind your child to give the new email address only to family and a few trusted friends.
  • Tell your child not to respond to rude or harassing emails, messages and postings. If the cyberbullying continues, call the police. Keep a record of the emails as proof.

Online Reputations

  • Explain that even if your kids delete their posted photos, others may have already copied them into public forums and websites.
  • Tell your kids not to let anyone, even friends, take pictures or videos of them that could cause embarrassment online – such as if a relative or teacher saw them.
  • Talk to your kids about possible consequences, let them critically analyse future scenarios

Safety Tips

  1. Ask your children if they use a social networking site. Look at the site together or search for it yourself online. Social networking sites often have age limits. Some sites prohibit kids under 14 – but doesn’t verify kids’ ages, so anyone can use it. If you want to delete a site, work with your child to cancel the account, or contact the social networking site directly.
  2. Tell your kids not to post a full name, address, phone number, school name and other personal information that could help a stranger to find them. Remind them that photos – like your child in a team jersey, school logo – can give away clues to where they live. Ask them not to send photos to people they meet online.
  3. Tell them to “instant message” only with family or friends they already know off-line.
  4. When it comes to Internet safety, there’s no substitute for parental supervision. Put your computer in a common area of your home, not a child’s bedroom, so you can keep an eye on online activities. Go to websites that explain the short-hand kids use in instant messaging, like “POS” (“parent over shoulder”) or “LMIRL” (“let’s meet in real life”), so you know what’s going on.
  5. Ask your kids to report any online activity that you have not approved.
  6. Most parents are surprised to learn that their child has social media accounts on sites you probably didn’t even know about. Talk to your child and make sure you know every site they are using and how those sites are used.
  7. Keep computers in a “public” location, rather than in their bedroom. At your discretion, it may be a good idea to routinely check computer and phone history and require that you know the passwords to all of your teen’s accounts… but keep in mind that infringing on their right to privacy may only push them further away.
  8. Boundaries, rules, and guidelines can be applied to behaviours that are allowed on social media… as well as the amount of time allowed to spend on social media. Teenagers with smart phones tend to be more interested in the cyber world and oblivious to the real world around them, but as a parent you can set the rules to prevent this from happening.
  9. It’s likely that over time, your children will want to add additional “friends” to their social networking profile. Also, understand that it’s likely that your children will receive requests from people they don’t know to be added to their “friend” list. Set an expectation that no person can be added to the “friend” list without your permission. Help them understand that their worth comes from God (not their friends).
  10. Don’t allow kids to post any information that would make it easy for a stranger to find them like addresses, phone numbers, where they regularly hang out, where they work, and what time they get off work. (Checking in)
  11. From the beginning, set the expectation that your child is allowed only one account on a social networking website.
  12. Make it clear that you intend to be a “friend” and will regularly check your child’s profile.
  13. The possibility exists that your child will receive uninvited, inappropriate, or threatening messages from others. Set the expectation that you need to know if this occurs, so that you can deal with these messages. Tell your kids that if they should receive inappropriate photographs from others, you expect them to notify you.
  14. Your kids need to know what you expect when it comes to visiting social media sites, such as YouTube. Determine what types of video they can view and which ones they cannot. Understand that you probably won’t be able to tell what videos they’ve watched, Make sure they know that should they come across video of a pornographic nature, that you’re willing to talk it over with them. Family approved apps!
  15. Kids need consistent discipline from their parents in order to both survive and thrive. That means clearly defined limits, expectations, and consequences clearly articulated to the children by the parents in ways that all involved parties understand. If your kids violate your boundaries, it’s key to follow through consistently with the agreed upon consequences.

Garland Sam
Scripture Union Pietermartizburg Regional Director

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