Social media is intended to help all of us connect with others. However, there are also risks associated with how a child connects with it. Daycares are taking advantage of the opportunity to expose children to healthy social media habits by discussing the good and bad aspects of technology. In this article, we will look closer at what your child is learning about social media while in daycare so that you can build on the foundation and keep the messages consistent for when your child is at home.
The Good Part
We said there is a lot of good that can come from your child having a social media profile and presence. The positives include the following:
Your child can use social media to maintain connections with immediate and extended family members. This is particularly important if some family members live far away and are not seen often in person. Social media provides a platform for such things as video chats, picture sharing, and more to keep those family attachments intact. It also provides the same tools in permitting your child to stay in touch with friends, especially during holiday breaks where the connection may break down due to lack of regular contact.
Social media provides many opportunities for positive interaction through volunteering or getting involved in charitable activities, a campaign or cause, or just to learn more about the importance of giving back to the community.
With platforms that allow children to share their ideas, art, music, and other skills, social media provides a means to develop and focus creativity. Often this leads to entrepreneurial pursuits that may not have been inspired without the use of social media and the feedback it produces.
Social media is an easy, cheap way for kids to meet and interact with other people who share common interests and goals. It can produce groups of like-minded individuals who can share experiences for input or educate others.
Probably one of the most practical benefits of social media is that it gives children a place where they can communicate with teachers, leaders, and peers. These streams of communication can be effective in the development of your child as they figure out who they are and what they want to be.
The Bad Part
There is a flip side to all the good things your child can experience from social media. For example, social media can be the center of questionable behavior and cyberbullying.
What Your Child Should Avoid Doing On Social Media
Daycares can guide children to use social media safely by steering them away from activities that can put them in a bad position. They include:
Children should refrain from posting photos of themselves online. They should also be encouraged to use anything but their real name on their profiles. Plus, they should not include such details in their profiles as birthdates, interests, the name of their school, or identify the community they live in.
Why Should They Keep Their Personal Information Private?
When a child shares too much information about themselves, their family, and activities, they can become an easy target for online predators and others that may cause them harm. To verify that these are legitimate concerns, some children who did not protect personal details on social media have had the following things happen to them:
- Been contacted online by a stranger and in a way that either scared them or caused them to feel uncomfortable
- Did not tell the truth about their age so they could access adult-only websites
- Have seen online ads that are not age-appropriate
How You Can Help
Your child’s daycare can only do so much. As a parent, you will have to continue to impress upon your child the importance of the lessons they are being taught regarding social media. You can do this by being aware of what your child is doing online. The best way to do this is to not snoop. Instead, teach your children these simple rules to follow when they are online and use social media platforms with their friends and family.
Urge your child to adopt a nice, kind attitude online. Let them know that being mean to anyone is not right and that you expect them to treat others with respect. They should also be warned to not post messages that may be hurtful or embarrassing. Plus, have them come to you if they encounter harassing or bullying messages posted by others online.
Think Before Sending
Remind your child that it is a good idea to think twice before hitting the enter key. This is of particular importance if the post indicates things like when your family is on vacation or contact details such as phone numbers, addresses, or indications of where they will be if at a party or other function.
Use The WWGS Rule
WWGS is “What Would Grandma Say?” and it is a good rule to have your child follow. Essentially, it is to cause them to think before posting something that they would rather their teachers, parents, future bosses, or grandma not see.
Set Privacy Levels
Social media platforms typically come with various privacy levels that you can set to personalize the experience. It is not uncommon to have a child’s profile and other social media settings locked down to the maximum, preventing others from being able to find out more than just what you have chosen to filter through.
Stay Away From Strangers
Another simple rule to follow online is “If you don’t know them, don’t friend them.” There are many predators out there who will friend children and claim in private messages to be the father or relative of your child’s school friends. If your child has any doubts, have them come to you first for feedback.
Social media has many good points but it comes with a bad side as well. If your child learns the best practices to follow in daycare, you can assist in protecting him or her by helping build on that foundation of knowledge so that your child can enjoy what social media should be used for and avoid what shouldn’t be in their lives. Plus, with good online habits established early, they will grow to respect the power of the internet and not abuse it.
Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool.