- Internet & the Web
Simple Safety Tips for your Kid’s Social Networking
When I was graduated from my school, I could never think that I can keep my friends in my pocket or computer as I travel. Those are the days when mobile phones and social networking phenomena was still a dream. So many years later, I started to gather my friends one by one through facebook and Orkut. LinkedIn helped me to get in touch with my professional circle.
Today, almost all the kids have access to social networking sites. But at the same time, there are people who think that a facebook user should be at least being 13 years or even more. As the voices across the globe asked facebook to raise its entry age level, facebook itself is thinking to open the site for kids below 13 years. Of course with certain changes.
But recently I came across lots of social networking sites for kids. And all of them are so interesting that if properly marketed and used, can be a great hit amongst kids.
One such beautiful site is Disney’s Club Penguin which may pose a huge competition for facebook if it tries to enter into kid’s domain. The content screening, social mingle and learning experiences of all these sites are excellent but what I found quite restricting is that some of these sites charge fee for additional features. Most of these sites have screened conversation and chat engines so that topics like sex, drugs and alcohol will never come up.
At the same time, it is extremely difficult to have an age restriction over internet and new technologies are getting developed to address this. So here I suggest some of the measures to be taken as a parent to keep your child safe with social networking sites: -
- Social Networking is Internet Based: - So simple. Yes, first of all the rules of safe internet usage applies here as well. So an introductory lesson on internet and safe usage is a must to kids.
- Communicate: Let your kid choose which social media they should get into. But always take their feedback on each session. Let them share their experiences, games they played, new friends they found on such sites.
- Set limits: - This applies both offline and online. Offline, clearly explain your child that you are going to allocate say X hours for their social mingle. Do install some good software to cut off internet automatically after the time limit. For Online check, most of the kid’s social networking sites require parent’s permission and digitally limit can be set.
- Cyber Bullying: - Explain your kid what “Cyber Bullying” means so that they can recognize it as soon as possible. And they should know when to report such incidence.
- Engage Safely with Other Culture: Even as an adult, I may still commit some mistake when connecting with people across the globe. The gestures, phrases, communication style are different with each culture and I suggest you to take a course on the same and then explain some simple steps to your child.
Sites like Facebook is seriously thinking to alter the age limit as around 38% of the facebook users are below 12 years of age. When the age restrictions are reduced, facebook can considerable increase their user base by at least 2-3 times the current figure. But at the end of the day neither facebook team not the digital regulators can ensure the safety of our children. The sole responsibility lies with parents and hence the confidence of our children should be taken into account warning them politely about the dangers of social networking sites.
Anyway, I will just ask my child to be patient. Let them wait till they can officially be a member of social networking sites after attaining the prescribed age limit and then enjoy the benefits.