If your child using social media, here are a few conversation starters to help them make the most of the experience:
Firstly, ask your child about what social networking services they use. Start on a positive footing by asking them to describe the things they like about it. Ask if you can see the profile. But don’t be surprised if your child is reluctant to show you – children can see social networking as a parent-free zone where they communicate with friends.
In order to open up the channels of communication with your child over their social networking use, don’t be too critical of their online experience or habits to date. It’s not always their fault if there is something inappropriate on their profile.
Sometimes a teenager won’t tell a parent about a bad experience they have had online because they fear that you might solve the problem by keeping them off their favourite social networking services. However, if they feel they can talk about their online habits with you, without judgement, or the threat of being disconnected it will lead to more honesty in the long run.
Ask your child what privacy settings they have set up on their profiles. Encourage them if they are public, to amend the setting to private so that only friends can see what they post. But also let them know that even with the tightest privacy controls, content posted online can be easily copied and shared with audiences they can’t control.
It’s a good idea too to talk about your child’s friends list. “Friends” is the catch all term for any contacts on social networking sites. Sometimes, in their desire for popularity, teenagers become too relaxed about who they’ll accept as ‘friends’. Teenagers should review their list of online ‘friends’ regularly, so they are sharing their information only with people they trust.
Be sure to put emphasis on the fact that they should NOT reply to any unwanted or unsolicited messages.
Although it may seem obvious, often scam artists or predators use message which draw responses from young people. So it’s good to make sure your child knows how important it is to ignore them.