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Social Media Tip: Parental Control for Social Media

Social media and networking has grown exponentially in the last few years. For many of us, the mere act of keeping up with the current trends is hard enough. However, the world of social media has become an integrated part of everyday life for children. They are using all sorts of devices, from smart phones to gaming devices and laptops, to access the internet. This means it's very hard for parents and guardians to keep track of what their children are doing online. Some children can start using social networks as young as 8, with 93% of teens between 12-17 already having multiple profiles online. As much as social media can be dangerous, there are just as many positive reasons why children should remain engaged in social networking. The key is to exercise safeguarding and to make sure your child is in-the-know about the risks of socialising online.

Source: flavorwire.com

Social media has bought about many advantages in the modern world; it's easier to communicate, make plans, learn and get your voice heard. Children can also glean many advantages from being tech-savvy. It's an amazing tool for interaction, learning, creativity and experimentation with identity. It's also very useful for those kids who don't necessarily 'fit in', as it enables them to develop their identity and social skills without feeling outcast.

Problems arise when children are not aware of the dangers of social networking. It is very common for them to not fully grasp the public nature of the internet, and the risk this poses on their physical safety at times. This is especially the case with recent developments such as location services. The risk arises when children feel too comfortable online and begin to share their private thoughts, photos, videos and personal information. This information can be public and will remain on the internet for a long time. Recent cases have shown that online predators are able to track children down from information provided in pictures; simple things like school uniform, or a certain certificate displayed behind their head in a profile picture can give away a child's identity. 29% of children and teens claim to have been stalked or contacted by someone that has made them feel uncomfortable. 

In what ways can parents control their child's safety on social media?

First and foremost, it is essential to ensure that your child is accessing age-appropriate sites. There are plenty of social networking sites designed for children, with the right privacy settings and safeguards. Club Penguin, a site for kids that is "guided by an unwavering commitment to safety and creativity", has sign up features that requires the parents email address for age verification, and also enables you to stay in control of your child's activity.  

Children should also be aware of the content they post online. 55% of teens have given out personal information to someone that they don't know online. They need to be made aware that information they post cannot be taken back, and that it is easy for people to take content you have posted and edit it in a way that children may not like. 

Furthermore, children need to be conscious of their online reputation. Sexting has become quite an issue nowadays amongst youths; when such photos become public, either accidentally or on purpose, it can create huge problems for the children involved. In extreme cases, if a minor is found to possess a photograph of another minor, it can be a criminal offence.

Parents should be aware that they are role models for children. It is advisable to limit use of devices around children, if parents would like their child to do the same. Social media can be quite a time-consuming activity and children should definitely be limited to the amount of time they spend online. If you require more help in how to use social networks in order to understand the various social media platforms, you can look to the web for assistance. Connectsafely, for example, offers various short, clearly written guidebooks to demystify apps, services and platforms. 

If you are still concerned about your child's safety online, there are plenty of ways to monitor their activity more closely. Firstly, you can use ISP's, a form of parental control set up with your internet provider. Virgin, Sky, Talk Talk (to name but a few), all offer parental control packages, that apply controls to all of your devices that access the internet through the internet connection. This also includes gaming devices. 

Secondly, you can use the parental safeguard options available on the device itself. Mac and Windows operating systems have parental control installed in their internet options. They are normally quite simple to use, and there is always the help option on the computer to guide you through if needed. The one downside is that these controls would not apply to other devices such as X-Box, Playstation, or tablets.

Finally, there is various software that you can download or purchase to monitor your child's activity online. It is slightly more invasive than the device or internet provider controls, but contains many more features to ensure your child is acting appropriately online, and that they are not accessing websites that may contain adult or inappropriate material. Avira, for example, enables you to have behind the scenes account monitoring of your children's accounts. This allows the child privacy, whilst making sure that they are safe online. It will monitor the friends your child adds to their various platforms, alerts you when certain risk words are mentioned (like suicide, drugs, sex, violence, cyber-bullying), and allows you to view what they do and for how long. Qustodio, another parental control software, also contains a way for you to set responsible time limit and blocks device access if necessary. It protects your child against inappropriate content and online predators.

It is important to research into the best parental control software for your family, some cost you money and some are free, and all of them have different features. This can also mean that some of them do not have some of the more important protection features. Overall, however you go about it, it is important that you remain on top of your child's online safety. There are plenty of issues that can come from a lack of online protection; from small issues between children to the risk of online predators. The most important reason, however, to exercise parental control on social media is to ensure your child gets the most out of what the social media world has to offer them in a safer environment.

Charlotte is a trainee journalist, who loves writing about anything and everything. Currently an intern at Social Media Frontiers, you can follow her @charlotteatsmf and @CharlotteR_4

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/
Social Media Tip: Parental Control for Social Media Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, February 13, 2014 Rating: 5
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