I grew up on the cutting edge of technology and social media. I remember patiently waiting for my AOL internet to connect via dial up–a sound that still haunts me and many others to this day. I got my first pager at 14, my first cell phone at 19, and was a first generation Facebook-er and Instagrammer. It’s no surprise electronic devices and social media are now a staple in our lives and for our children. Let’s be honest, it’s almost second nature for them at this point!
But as much as I am all about social media in my chosen line of work, as a parent, I am also all about SAFETY.
Like many families, our family’s use of technology has noticeably increased over the last 18 months or so. From attending school online (I still have PTSD) and spending hours streaming video to staying connected to friends and loved ones via FaceTime and Zoom, it’s a part of our everyday routine now. As a content creator, one of my biggest joys is being able to connect with my followers and oftentimes a larger audience via social media. As a parent, my feelings are a bit more conflicted. Either way, with so much unfiltered content streaming across the internet, I am always on the lookout for resources on how to keep my daughter safe.
This is why I was happy to hear that Facebook just launched its new Child Safety Hub, a central location with all the tools parents and teachers need to protect children from the dangers of the internet and social media. I have watched a few of the training videos from the Safety Hub and already learned new ways to make my children’s use of the Facebook and Messenger platforms safer. Here are my top takeaways:
- Talk to your child. It sounds basic, but it’s so important to have conversations about digital safety early and often. I want her to practice “safe social” as she grows up, so we are starting these conversations now.
- If they are old enough, teach them the tools to keep them safe. Things like how to set up privacy preferences, enable two-factor authentication, and how to report inappropriate content. I currently manage my daughter’s social accounts, but I let her “practice” posting and liking/commenting with my supervision here and there.
- Keep reading, learning and teaching. There are always new platforms and text codes popping up–this is not a one and done discussion, parents! Social media is constantly evolving. (And yes, I am exhausted by it all too!)
As our world continues to trend toward a future centered on technology and social media, our children will inevitably become a part of these online communities. It is on us as parents to equip ourselves with the necessary tools to keep them safe. Whether your child has social media or not, I encourage all parents to spend a few minutes on the Child Safety Hub to educate themselves on today’s practices for digital safety and how you can communicate with your kids about what they may experience.
I think we can all agree that we’d prefer social media to be a more pleasant place to interact! The first step begins with us parents ensuring it’s a safe space for our children to spend time online.
Michelle Olson-Rogers is a mom of one and the founder of Modern Boca Mom, an award-winning lifestyle website for the stylish & modern South Florida Mommy. She can also be found on Instagram at @modernbocamom.