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Social Media: Parents' Greatest Online Fear

Soz, Mum

As social media websites grow and continue to dominate our lives, we also have to accept that they will also come to dominate the lives of our children. According to a study conducted by the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), social media constitutes parents' greatest fear about what their child does online. To discover more about what parents thought about their children being online and using social media, three focus groups were conducted: parents with children between the ages of 6 and 9; 10 and 10; and 14 and 17. The results of the research, which was done by Hart Research Associates on behalf of FOSI, were very revealing.
social media snooping
Out of all the parents interrogated, 43% thought that the negatives that come with their children being on social media outweighed the positives, while 26% thought it was worth the potential risks. Despite these stats, over half the parents said that their children had social media accounts. However, amongst those parents who let their children have social media accounts, 78% would log into their accounts to check on their posts.

This seems to be a growing trend, with 95% of parents admitting to monitoring more of their children's activities online, with 55% of them very closely checking what their children did online. The study also showed that the younger the child was, the more likely the parents were to check what they were up to. A lot more apps are available that cater to parents' fears, that will monitor your child's activities for you and help you control what they do. Is that really the way forward to ensure that children have a smooth and safe relationship with the internet and social media?

Trying to control everything your child sees on the internet - or everything they do - might not ensure that they learn to use the internet appropriately. It's also important to realise that at certain ages, the internet probably should not be used without supervision, especially with children as young as 6. Facebook's age restriction, which can easily be bypassed, exists for a reason, and all parents should respect and wait till their child is 13 before unleashing them onto social networks.
social media snooping
The best way to ensure your children understand the risks but also the benefits of being on the internet is to talk to them about it. This study revealed that 94% said they had discussions with their child, with 64% having recurring conversations about the matter. Parents should also trust schools to teach children good internet and social media practise.

Nowadays, and in the years to come, young children will have parents who will have grown up with the internet, using Facebook regularly to communicate with their friends, therefore they will have a greater understanding of social media. When Facebook first appeared, our parents did not understand what it was, but now we will be able to teach our children how to safely use social media, without necessarily resorting to checking their messages

Laura is a recent graduate from University of East Anglia in Film and Television Studies, currently interning as a content writer but hoping to one day live off her writing. Follow her @LauraAtSMF.

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Social Media: Parents' Greatest Online Fear Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, November 13, 2014 Rating: 5
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