Being Smart About Social Media

— Written By Jennifer Guerrero and last updated by Vonda Vaughn
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Security with blocks representing online dangers
Most teens use some form of social media and have a profile on social networking sites. According to GlobalWebIndex, social media has been a form of communication and has lessened the loneliness of isolation for 65% of Gen Z and 61% of millennials. Gen Z is considered those born between 1997 and 2012, while millennials are those born between 1981 and 1994. There are plenty of good things about social media, but there are still risks of which teens should be aware of and avoid.
Let talk about what is good about social media:
Social media can help kids:
  • Stay connected with friends and family.
  • Enhance their creativity by sharing ideas, music, and art.
  • Meet and interact with others who share similar interests.
  • Communicate with teachers and fellow peers.
  • Research on topics or get involved with a campaign, nonprofit, or charity.

Less favorable things about Social Media: These are things like cyberbullying and other questionable activities. Kids can share more online than they should. For example:

  • Post photos of themselves online or use their real names on their profiles.
  • Reveal their birthdates and interests.
  • Post their school name and the town where they live This can make them easy targets for online predators and others who might mean them harm. So considering the consequences of social media. What can parents do?

This is what Kids Health suggests: “It’s important to be aware of what your kids do online. Stay involved in a way that your kids will understand but will respect their privacy.”

Tell your kids it’s important to:

  • Be nice and have a zero-tolerance for mean behavior. Set expectations on how to treat others with respect. Instruct youth to never post harmful or embarrassing messages and to speak up if they see any harassing or bullying messages that others post.
  • Think twice before hitting “send” or “enter.” Anything that is posted can be used against them so it’s important to think before doing.
  • Along with thinking twice, teach kids to not share anything on social media that they wouldn’t want teachers, college admission officers, future bosses, and family members to see.
  • Privacy settings are important and teaching your kids about each one is good. While it might seem harmless to share passwords with friends, let them know it’s important to not share to protect them against things like identity theft.
  • Lastly, don’t “friend” strangers. While it may seem harmless at first, it is not safe. This is a plain, simple, and safe rule of thumb.

For information on this topic or other topics, visit: Kids Health