Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Social Media and Safety at Home

I have witnessed social media such as Twitter be an incredible tool for professional development for fields such as medicine, education and engineering.  It is a great experience to talk to professionals all over the world about a specific topic or learn of new research.  I have also been made aware of social media being an incredible tool for hurting children -similar in many ways to how a knife can be utilized to cook a wonderful meal or be a weapon. 

Two popular social media that middle school students and students in intermediate grades are using are Snapchat and Instagram.  Instagram and Facebook require that children have to be 13 to have an account. Snapchat’s policy states:

 “OUR AUDIENCE:The Snapchat service is intended for use by people who are 13 years of age or older. Minors over the age of 13 should seek permission from their parents to use the application.”

Many children have created Instrgram and Snapchat accounts without their parent’s permission and knowledge specifically.  It is often the case that parents have told their children they can not have a Facebook Account, with one of the main reasons being that parents know about Facebook, but have not addressed these other social media options with their children.   

Some of the dangers of having young children on social media are that they might say things online that they would never say in person, have the capability of posting damaging pictures where the subject of the picture did not give consent, or be stalked by a pedofile.  Pedofiles will often impersonate tweens to gain access to communicate with children.  

I would not be surprised if readers of this blog post tonight looked at the browsing history on an electronic device or apps on those devices in their house and came across Snapchat or Instagram.  In fact, a lot of the usage of new social media apps and web pages are by the age 10-18 year old demographic. 

As a parent when comes to privacy it takes a back seat to safety in my mind.  Several of my friends and myself actively, daily, and with hawkish behavior check our children’s electronic devices.  Students can access wifi at such common places as McDonald’s Restaurant.  Many electronic devices are easy to conceal and very portable.  Just like instant messaging was a great concern 10 years ago we always need to be mindful of what’s next in the world of electric communication to ensure our children are responsible digital citizens.  


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