It’s estimated that about 73% of teens, ages 12 to 17, have a profile page on at least one social media website or app; out of these teens, about 47% have profiles that are public and can be viewed by anyone.
It’s difficult — if not impossible — to keep your child from going online. The strict internet content filtering software and parental controls that were once effective seem to have lost their purpose, especially since it’s possible to access the internet from nearly any electronic device these days.
The obvious problem is that it’s getting harder and harder to protect your kids online — especially on social media sites — because the web is so accessible. But that doesn’t mean you should completely give up trying to protect them and educate them about the dangers online. Even with social media monitoring software for parents, in addition to services and apps that automatically filter and monitor internet activity for you, there are still plenty of dangers that exist when your child has a social media profile:
- Receiving (and sending) messages to peers that contribute to an increase in cyberbullying, which is becoming a serious problem among kids and is difficult to detect, since it occurs primarily online.
- Receiving (and sending) messages to strangers that seem to be from a similar age group, but could actually be from adult predators with fake accounts.
- Posting and sending inappropriate and provocative pictures — which can occasionally result in a young teenager being charged with a felony crime for distributing inappropriate pictures of minors.
As a parent, you probably want to find a way to protect your kids online without making them feel as though you don’t trust them; most parents feel this way, in fact. It may not be the best idea to try to keep your kids offline entirely, but it’s important to educate them about the dangers of social media websites so that they can develop safe and healthy habits when they use the internet — even when they aren’t being monitored.