Being a mom of two wonderful, active and very curious boys, and living in a world in which technology is all around us, I took the initiative to learn more about the new social media trends. During my internet research, I found that a new messenger app is available on the Facebook platform.
Facebook created a new platform called “Messenger Kids.” This program allows parents to download the application with their son/daughter, create a profile, and approve friends and family with whom they can text and video chat from the main Messenger app. While this provides some wonderful resources and opportunities to families, it is important that you research and understand the implications of using this technology with your family. Before utilizing a new media platform that has the potential to market to your child, it is important to evaluate their maturity and your comfort level with the application.
The internet has drastically changed the way children interact with others in the world. They have access to all kinds of information, can communicate with people around the world, and much more. Unfortunately, the internet is also a place where our children are at risk if we do not take the measures and actions to keep them safe. Risks include …
- Exposure to inappropriate material
- Online predators
- Revealing too much personal information
Some ways to monitor internet use is to set rules and talk with your children. That includes rules for you/other responsible adults and rules for the children. Suggested household rules for devices include …
- Keep the computer in a high-traffic area of your house.
- Monitor all the devices in your house (e.g., smartphones, tablets, game devices, desktop computers, laptops). Make a list and use the parental controls to control the access to the web.
- Sit with your children and let them show you what they like to do online.
- Know who their “buddies” are online or monitor who they are messaging.
- Set rules of social networking, instant messaging, emailing, online gaming and the use of webcams.
- Talk to your children about internet safety.
We recommend that you talk to your child and come up with an agreement that works for your family. Safe Kids Upstate has an agreement you and your son/daughter can complete to be a reminder for rules to follow when using an electronic device. Some of the rules include …
- I will not give personal information such as my address, telephone number or parents’ work address/telephone number without my parents’ permission.
- I will tell my parents if I come across something that makes me feel uncomfortable.
- I will never agree to get together with someone I “meet” online without first checking with my parents. If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring a parent along.
- I will talk with my parents about posting pictures of myself or others online and not post any pictures that my parents consider to be inappropriate.
Learning to recognize the warnings and signs of these risks will allow you to protect your children against negative impacts. By acting as a resource, we as parents can help make the internet a safer place for our families. We should stay well informed about current issues to understand what our children are experiencing on and off the internet.
Remember: Children whose parents regularly talk with them and are involved with them in their activities exhibit more responsible behaviors on their own. Click here for more Internet safety information.
Nydia Arce, MPH, is a special project coordinator with Safe Kids Upstate, which is part of GHS Children’s Hospital‘s Bradshaw Institute for Community Child Health & Advocacy.