Hopefully, the sun will shine enough for children to stay off their phones and other electronic devices this week, but as the kids are away from school, thoughts may turn to what they might be getting up to online and how to make sure they are using digital and social media safely. Here are some tips from Air Social Digital Marketing Agency on how to help your children use their screen time wisely.

Lay down the rules

In the same way that you wouldn’t abide by your children misbehaving or being mean in the playground or at home, make sure they realise the same rules apply online. It’s very easy to hide behind a screen and forget that there are real people the other side so make it clear that you expect your kids to treat others with respect and never to post hurtful or embarrassing messages. Equally, encourage them always to tell you if they are at the receiving end of bullying or hurtful messages.

Think twice

Remind youngsters that what they post online can sometimes be used against them, even if it has been posted innocently, so they should always think twice before hitting enter. Tell them never to publicly post personal information, such as people’s addresses or phone numbers, and if they’re unsure, then they should always air on the side of caution and seek your advice first. A general rule to go by is that they should not share anything on social media that they wouldn’t want their teachers, future bosses or grandparents to see.

Don’t snoop

Of course, it’s important to be aware of what your children are up to online, but snooping can alienate them and damage trust, so it’s equally important to respect their privacy. Explain to them that, as a parent, you want to make sure they are safe – they wouldn’t be allowed to go somewhere without telling you where they were going first, and the same applies to the internet. Encourage them to be honest and open about their online activities.

Use privacy settings

Make sure your children understand what privacy settings are and why they are essential. Explain that passwords are there to protect them against crime, such as identity theft and that they should never share them with anyone, not even a boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend.

Draw up a contract

It may sound a bit business-like but consider making a social media agreement with your children to help encourage them – and you – to abide by certain rules. It might stipulate that they agree to always use the internet wisely by protecting their privacy and not getting involved in or promoting gossip that might hurt someone. In turn, parents can agree to respect their children’s privacy and similarly not post anything that might embarrass their children. You could stipulate that the only way you will allow them to use social media is if you can be their friend so you can see what they are posting as anyone else would, rather than hacking into their accounts secretly.

Limit screen time

In the same way that you may have rules on how much television your children can watch, you can also put limits on digital use, such as not being allowed technology at dinner time or disallowing the use of laptops and smartphones in their bedrooms. It’s essential to lead by example; you can’t expect your children to follow the rules if you don’t!
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