Your kid is pissed off by someone or is angry. She wants to express herself, but keeping her identity hidden. She goes to Yik Yak app on her mobile and posts,” Do you know Christina (probably her classmate), she is a slut” and the post goes to everyone around in the location. All the classmates and probably neighboring users of the app get to see the post. Your young girl succeeds in defaming her class rival in the entire community. No login, no name, no traces. You can only know where she was when posting. What if she was on the victim side? Hannah Smith from England, who was continually taunted on social media this way, committed suicide when she was only 14.
Kik is another social media application that allows users to talk to each other anonymously. Can you imagine what dangers your kids can be exposed to when using this app? Nichole Madison, a 13 year old teen had been communicating with an 18 year old boy from Virginia and this led to the murder of the innocent girl.
With social media apps like these, cyberbullying has taken a new level and with anonymity over internet, anyone can be made a victim. Revenge porn, Sink Slots, Slut Shaming, Finstas, cyberbulling, sexting rings, soft prostitution, Netflix & Chill, Facebook Depression, Tinder Food Stamps - social media misuse has added to new vocabulary of the web.
Many a times, parents think that if they are also on the social media, they can monitor and track the activities of their kids online. But what about fake accounts like Finstas - fake Instagram accounts that can be used for sexting, slut shaming, sink slots, and revenge porn? Teenagers are addicted and obsessed with social media which has resulted into a complete change of culture and with this change come dangers. The capability of remaining anonymous on these apps can add to threats and the life of your teenager can be ruined.
A survey conducted on teenagers found that 22% of them used social media at least 10 times every day. Over 75% owned mobile while is the fast route to social media access. We all know that teenagers of today are exposed to grave dangers with the use of social media but it is not always possible to block the applications from them.
Instead, we can take other measures that can help us protect our teenage kids as parents while at the same time not restricting kids from using social media. Here are some ways you can help your kid:
Educating: Most times, kids are not aware of what dangers lay on social media. It’s your duty as parents to educate them about good and bad, wonders and dangers of social media.
Monitoring: Monitoring activities of kids over social media should always be on the top in the list of priorities as your kids can never be so intelligent to be able to judge the things even after they have the knowledge. Some monitoring softwares like Net Nanny and Surfie can help you take control over the social media exposure of kids as you can use them to filter content, monitor your kid’s friend’s activities, and block their chats.
Supporting: Instead of fighting with kids over the use of social media, if parents are more understanding and supporting then kids would have a guiding hand. Imagine a child seeing a derogatory remark posted by a friend on her profile. Let her feel the comfort to tell you and ask what she should do in such a situation. As a parent, you can guide her into doing something that is right and would keep her safe.
Engaging: Kids use social media because they want to engage in some activities and they want to communicate with the world. If you can create a community outside the social world, they would not feel this need any more. Engage them in healthy activities like sports, community clubs, mountaineering, arts, etc., where they can learn, enjoy and make friends. And not to forget, when you have time, engage in fun activities with your kids.
Diverting: We cannot stop kids from using social media but we can divert them to sites that are comparatively safer such as whyville.com, D-gamer, MySpace and Facebook.