Don’t let your child be a Weiner online: 7 tips to manage your child’s online behaviors.
Call me a Pollyanna, but I am truly shocked about the recent news of congressman Anthony Weiner’s alleged indecent pictures posted on Twitter. If an adult who is a position of power and influence can act that way what can you expect of your hormonal tween?
It certainly gives parents an opportunity to review their ‘online media rules’ with their children. If you are a family that does not have rules in place, now may be the perfect time to mention your concerns and establish media rules for your household.
Wondering if you need media guidelines in your home? Look at what’s considered a norm in our society. There are media policies at work and at school and if you do not have media boundaries in place at home your child may explore areas on the internet and act in ways that you’d expect them not to. Children naturally love to test boundaries, and they will likely do so if there are no clear expectations or consequences.
Here are 7 tips to help your child manage their online behaviors:
- Discuss with your spouse or parenting partner what your values are around using the internet and social media. Decide together what media is appropriate for your child’s cognitive and emotional developmental level. Every child matures at a different rate, so be aware of what’s appropriate for your child based upon their developmental maturation, not age. Together come up with your family media rules so your child doesn’t end up going from one parent to the other to get what they want.
- Decide if you will place parental controls on your child’s computer using software such as NetNanny or CyberSitter. You can find reviews for top 10 parental controls here http://www.wellresearchedreviews.com/computer-monitoring/?gclid=CJux6af_pqkCFRFU7AodIV5Hwg
- Limit where your child can use the computer if you are uncertain if they can be trusted online. This may mean that they can only use the computer at the kitchen table or in the family room. Again, depending upon your child’s maturity they may be able to use their computer in their bedroom as they show they are responsible and trustworthy.
- Write down what your media rules are. If they are able to go on Facebook, Myspace, or Twitter sit down with your child and come up with some rules. Include your expectations about lewd words or images, who they can friend, and expectations around sharing personal information and cyberbullying. Be playful and role play a few of the problems they may encounter and ask them what they might do in that situation, such as a friend posting party pictures, swearing friends or someone writing nasty wall comments. Let them know you are there to support them and are open to helping them solve problems when they come up.
- Become your child’s followers or friends on whatever social media platform they are using. Tell your child this is part of building trust and let them know your expectations. As they mature you may need less parental support and you may decide to give them more freedom as they show they are trustworthy. Let them know that whatever they post they must feel it would be okay to share with their parents.
- Use media scandals as an opportunity to discuss with your child how they would handle that situation. What can they learn from Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian’s sex videos or Charlie Sheen’s behavior? Be open to listening to your child’s thoughts before your jump in with your parental advice.
- Using a computer is not a “right”. Many children feel they are entitled to use the computer as the desire and some will say they are doing homework as they chat with their friends. Using the computer is not a right, and if a child shows that they cannot not be responsible, then pull in your parenting reigns and limit the time on the computer to just homework time and have them do their homework in a place where you can observe their behaviors. Be clear on what the consequences will be if they violate this rule.
You can teach your child to be responsible by creating clear and consistent rules around online behaviors. As one of the parents I worked with so eloquently said, “When you are responsible then it may be possible”. Use these 7 tip to help your child become clear on what behavior is acceptable online, so they don’t ever become a Weiner!
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