Discuss This with Darren

Online Relationships & Social Media Safety

In the last newsletter, I looked at some of the potential risks and vulnerabilities of social media.

HOW YOUR CHILD BECOMES VULNERABLE TO THESE RISKS

A person’s use of social media can accidentally put them at risk because every interaction on a site or an app can leave information that may give away unplanned details about your life and this information can remain online and accessed by the wrong people.

If the wrong people can easily gather the information, it can be used to gain the trust of or exploit your child.

LESS VISIBLE CONCERNS OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Impacts for vulnerable social media users and their family may not just be the issues that can be seen on a screen.

  • Parents can feel inadequate about how to adjust or change privacy and security settings on their account.
  • A child can be met with aggressive, toxic, or inappropriate communications and not be equipped to manage or de-escalate the fallout and feel unsure or fearful to tell an adult what has been happening.
  • The child may not have the skills to recognise inappropriate or bad behaviour early enough to manage and minimise the damage.
  • If left alone social media issues can and do influence the desire or enthusiasm to attend school, work, or other necessary activities.
  • Mental health issues stemming from or intensified by social media.

ASSISTING YOUR CHILD TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN A POSITIVE WAY

We live in a digital world now and locking devices away 24/7 is not practical. It is vital to identify positive outcomes your child could find from social media use:

It is important as a parent to understand your child’s motivations for using social media. We want them to enjoy it and use it responsibly and safely. Therefore, the restrictions and safety measures need to be agreed upon together for the benefit of all parties. When you inadvertently impede your child from achieving their social media goals through restrictions they will often try to find another way and do it behind your back.  Another reason for this is if a restriction is put in place that impedes your child from reaching their goals they may simply remove the restriction rather than have a discussion about it, leaving them vulnerable or at risk.

Create a plan with your child to achieve their goals. The art of negotiation.

If there is an understanding of what your child wishes to achieve then there is also a perceived interest in assisting your child to achieve their goals. Therefore, parent and child can work together to create a plan to apply safety measures that still allow the child to achieve their goals.

The child may also ask for assistance in reducing or applying alternative safe restrictions that still allows them access to the features, they wish to access if a setting is affecting the use of a desired feature. Work together on this as it’s a great teaching opportunity.

Darren.