Keeping children and youth safe online is a priority for parents and those who minister to them.  Yet, keeping up with a constantly changing array of social media platforms and settings isn’t easy.  Very quickly, what is popular today is gone tomorrow.

What can we do? Using app controls or software that monitors activity may help to a certain extent.  However, they can’t substitute for parental conversations with your child about what they encounter on social media and other technology.  So, even though it is impossible to keep an eye on everything that our children and youth are up to, it is possible to provide them with our guidance and wisdom.  Having conversations with youth about their online activity is the most important activity we can do to help kids be safer online.

Where to start?  Family Media Agreements provide some guidance in considering what to discuss.  Of course, you’ll need to tailor the conversation to be age appropriate.  Even though you may not opt for a written agreement with your child or youth, you will undoubtedly find some talking points. Here is an example of a Family Media Agreement from Common Sense Media.

Also, there are settings in social media settings that can help keep your child safer.  However, no set of controls makes online activities completely safe.  Therefore, the conversations between you and your child are most important.  Here are guides to the parental settings.  Each of these companies have a set of webpages dedicated to educating parents about their products that are included in each guide.

Jim Connell
Digital Learning and Technology Specialist