How can Children stay safe on social media?

Today our everyday lives have changed dramatically; if we thought that cable tv was a revolution and that children needed to be monitored as to what tv shows they were watching, well, a flash of lightning – Technology and social media have in the literal sense, taken over our lives completely.

We as Adults are spending so much time on social media, whether it is a work requirement, a platform to share our lives or simply communicating – the fact is that social media is as much a part of our life as breathing itself.

If we understand and acknowledge this fact as adults, it won’t be hard for us to see that the same will be inculcated in children from a very young age, for they follow what they watch and observe around them. Parents should be aware of the risks and learn about how children can stay safe online.

What has social media replaced?

Let us be honest and look around; even as a toddler, we encourage our child to stay glued to the laptop, tablet, or phone, while the nursery rhymes or other such child content plays while you work in the background doing your everyday chores. So, the first step starts here itself.

Then as young children, we indulge them by making videos or clicking pictures of the cutesy poses and hilarities they might indulge in innocently or sometimes encouraged by the parents themselves so as to put them on social media platforms.

Open Instagram, Facebook, or Tik Tok, and one will come across videos, and pictures by the millions, clicked and posted by primarily the parents themselves.

Where are the books, the playing, Art & Craft, or simply interacting with other kids? A child’s world has been taken over by systematic forms of different types of content that makes no contribution to their personal growth and individuality and, in some cases, may even compromise their safety and security.

Parents need to be wiser.

As parents, it is our fundamental responsibility not only to take care of our children and give them the right environment to flourish but also supremely to ensure their safety and protection from all harm.

And harm from social media is something that parents today need to understand. There is so much content out there that is vulgar, bordering on vulgarity or downright adult content.

In fact, today, we have gone so haywire that even the adult content is highly psychotic and can manipulate a person completely if one gets into the wrong group chats, visual content, etc., so what can be said for children and young adults?

Advice for parents

As a parent, you need to know what’s happening in your children’s online world and understand it as best you can. Know what devices they have, what sites they’re visiting and who they’re talking to. Talk to them about the importance of privacy and why it’s a bad idea to share personal information, even with friends.

Other tips:

· Tell younger children to be careful who they give their mobile

numbers and not pass on friends’ numbers without asking

them first.

· Remind children not to respond to texts from people they

don’t know. In some cases, bullies send out random texts and

wait to see who responds.

· Remind them to change passwords regularly and tell no one

what they are.

· Always consider whether something you send might make

another person uncomfortable. Whether it’s a “joke” or

something about another person, be aware that it might be

taken the wrong way or sent on to someone else. If in doubt,

don’t send it.

· Talk with your child about how images, if posted online or sent on a mobile phone, could get sent on to others and be used to bully or embarrass them.

The Wren Eleanor controversy

So here we have an example of a mother and her young toddler – Wren Eleanor – a very popular TikTok account holder with more than 17 million followers. The account detailed the young toddler’s activities, pictures and videos. 

The controversy erupted because millions of concerned netizens believed that the mother was using the child to get fame and were more concerned that this innocent content could be misused and that it could attract child predators from all over the world.

Child Predators, Cyberbullying, Stalking

It is a known fact that we live in a world where child predators exist, and the only line of safety between them and the child is awareness and precaution not only on the part of the parent and those responsible for the child but children themselves need to be taught from a very early age to understand the concept and to be able to discriminate right touch from the wrong.

The fact that so much material and content is available online has become a “heaven” for child predators who prey on such content and may even get fixated on the child, which may result in something more devious like stalking or kidnapping.

Also, today there is increased pressure on young adults to have an excellent social profile to have a decent following. So much for a young adult is dependent on these factors that popularity and the number of followers is what decide their worth in the eyes of their peers.

There have been many cases of cyberbullying, which is a direct shoot of this “social addiction”. It has led many to get into depression and suicidal tendencies, and in many cases, it has led to so much frustration that it may also lead to mass school shootings. 

The Wren Eleanor Controversy’s Result

Following the many concerned people who posted their comments about the child’s safety prompted the mother to disable the comment section of the app.

But it did something in terms of creating a wave wherein millions of parents around the world understood that they needed to take such content (their Child/ Children) down and not make it so readily available on social media. The vulnerability of the child with regard to safety was something they all understood and agreed upon.

What can be done, educating a child

It is strange that while social media allows one to communicate with just about anyone in any corner of the world with just a click of a button, it has also, at the same time, set in isolation.

One might be chatting with many around the world, sharing personal stories and experiences, yet it is not the same thing, or is it? 

An online study revealed a startling figure: 74% of parents are in the dark about their kids’ online activities. And that online activity increases year after year. 85% of mothers said they use technology to keep their children busy.

What should you communicate to your child?

· Have a discussion with your kids about the significant threats

online today. Make sure they know what a phishing attack

and a disreputable game’s website look like so they know not

to fall for these scams.

· Make sure they keep all their information private and never

publish their full name, phone number, address, or school

they attend in a public place.

· Talk to your kids about passwords. Having a strong password

is the first and best measure to prevent hacking and identity


Using a secure password generator is great for this occasion,

and trying out passwords together is a fun way of ensuring

your child’s password is as strong as possible.

· Tell your kids to avoid using public wifi – this is an easy way

for hackers to get into their devices.

Conclusion: it is imperative for parents to understand that sharing their children’s profiles/information is highly risky. Parents can only guide and educate their children if they themselves take these essential and cautionary steps. It is equally important for parents to know and understand the content/ what their children are doing online.

Equally important is to communicate and communicate in a manner that puts the child at ease and has trust that no matter the situation, the child can come and talk with you and confide in you.

At the same time, tell your child the importance of maintaining the privacy and the traps that social media or online content can throw a child in.

Above all, be aware, watchful and responsible in your own actions such that the child, too, has a better understanding, for the saying goes – lead by example!

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