Recently there has been an increase in conflict as a result of children using social media before or after school. This has resulted in hurt feelings, broken friendships, rumours, and bully type behaviour. Parents, then become understandably upset and attempt to address the situation in a variety of ways, sometime resorting to social media themselves to “pay back” on the parent or child who has upset their child. You can imagine the impact in school the day following this kind of exchange. While we cannot control the use of social media outside of school, we are providing the following information which may assist parents to determine whether or not their child should be introduced to social media, and if so, how to use it safely.
The first point to note is that school does not support nor recommend primary school aged children being involved in the use of social media. Most platforms have a recommended age of 13, which is the Australian Government recommendation and we support that restriction.
If, as parents, you choose to allow your child to use any form of social media, the following information may be taken in to consideration and has been written for parents of children 13+;
Most young people use some form of social media and have a profile on a social networking site. (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter etc) Many visit these sites every day. While there are plenty of good things about social media — there are many risks associated with social media use. Kids don't always make good choices when they post something to a site, and this can lead to problems.
What can parents do:
Be aware of what they do online. The key is to stay involved in a way that makes your kids understand that you respect their privacy but want to make sure they're safe.
Tell your kids that its important to:
- Be nice.Mean behaviour is not OK. Make it clear that you expect your kids to treat others with respect, and to never post hurtful or embarrassing messages. And ask them to always tell you about any harassing or bullying messages that others post.
- Think twice before hitting "enter."Remind kids that what they post can be used against them. For example, posting information about location, addresses and phone numbers.
- Follow the "WWGS?" (What Would Grandma Say?) rule.Teach kids not to share anything on social media that they wouldn't want their teachers, future bosses — and yes, grandma — to see. Even when they think something has been deleted, it can be impossible to completely erase it from the internet.
- Use privacy settings.Privacy settings are important. Go through them together to make sure your kids understand each one This includes limiting personal contact information in their profiles and posts. Never give away phone numbers or addresses. Also, explain that passwords are there to protect them against things like identity theft
- Don't "friend" strangers."If you don't know them, don't friend them." This is a plain, simple — and safe — rule of thumb.
It is also highly recommended to:
- Make a Contract. Consider making a "social media agreement" with your kids — a real contract they can sign. In it, they agree to protect their own privacy, consider their reputation, and not give out personal information. They also promise not to use technology to hurt anyone else through bullying or gossip. In turn, parents agree to respect teens' privacy while making an effort to be part of the social media world. This means you can "friend" and observe them, but don't post embarrassing comments or rants about messy rooms.
- Limit use. Put limits on media use. Keep computers in public areas in the house, avoid laptops and smartphones in bedrooms, and set some rules on the use of technology (such as no devices at the dinner table).
- Set an example. Setting an example through your own virtual behaviour can go a long way toward helping your kids use social media safely.
- Use parental controls and disable location services.
Attached to this letter is further information that has been provided through esafety.gov.au/iparent