Keeping impulses and raw emotion in check when composing a social media post or e-mail is hard enough for many adults. It’s especially hard for kids.
Your children and teens should know that a reckless comment or inappropriate photo can bring unexpected consequences, said Dr. Laura Markley, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Akron Children’s Hospital.
“Even before children are on social media, let them know what they post could effect their future, their friendships and their safety, depending on who sees it,” Dr. Markley said.
“Colleges are asking applicants for access to their Facebook pages.”
Photos especially can land kids in trouble.
“I like to ask kids, how would you feel if that picture was shown at the next family gathering?” Dr. Markley said.
Also, keep in mind that sarcasm and even good-natured teasing can be taken the wrong way. Friends can read things into what you write.
And if you are mad at someone, it’s not a good idea to express it online or in a text message.
Dr. Markley suggests that if you need to vent, write the e-mail or message without filling in the sendee’s name. When it’s out of your system, scrap it and start over calmly.
“Usually, we can’t communicate anything constructive when we’re emotional or angry,” she said.
Dr. Markley also has 5 online safety tips:
- Check your kids’ Facebook settings. Their profiles shouldn’t be public.
- Consider having your kids use a nickname rather than their full name on social media. It will keep the wrong kind of people from finding and friending them.
- Monitor what your kids post. Have them limit social media friends to people they know.
- Know their phones’ security features and parental controls.
- Disable location services on their phones. Location services allow other users to discern your location from photos.