When I was working on a social media policy for business use, it occurred to me that companies are not the only ones who can find themselves vulnerable. With kids using social media, families can get into hot water as well, ranging from embarrassment to complex legal situations. Social media has dramatically changed the way people interact, and considering professional adults have trouble grasping correct and safe behavior, it’s to be expected kids aren’t going to be intuitively savvy either.
Facebook is fun. People of all ages don’t realize that it’s not all chit chat and games. Things can get ugly really fast. Families need to prepare. Parents should:
- not let their kids use social media without full educating them about the risks
- provide ongoing and continual guidance
- monitor their kids activities or have another trusted adult monitor, if direct monitoring is too invasive
If the kids are old enough to use social media, they are old enough to understand best practices. It’s up to the parents to become more educated and enforce acceptable practices. If there is a question of liability, the parents will be responsible so they had better be aware of any activity.
The internet is a scary place. The number one thing to consider when your kids interact with social media is safety. Be very upfront about predators. Discuss that predators don’t just include the perverts but also include those who may use children to get their parent’s personal information for fraudulent purposes.
A family social media policy should cover rules about who to friend. Perhaps it’s only people the child interacts with on a regular basis – perhaps just family. Subject matter can also be covered. Private family matters should remain private. Or maybe no photography on the account. Regardless of what is included, discuss potential issues in advance because things happen very fast through social media and once content gets out, it’s out for good.
Another thing to consider is that the web is a permanent record. He said, she said, is much harder to deal with when there is a record of the conversation. It is very, very easy to take things out of context on the web. Throw in some typical teenage emotions and it’s world war three waiting to happen. Kids need to understand that they need to think before they write. It’s better to talk about anything that could be sensitive off-line to avoid misinterpretations. Also discuss cyber-bullying and how to recognize the signs and how to not participate inadvertently.
Your family social media policy, like those for business, can be very basic or in-depth, but how to use social media should be something your entire family is on the same page about. Not sure where to start? Google social media policy and see what policies are out there and adapt them for your family. Comment and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have.