The world of social media and young girls is a scary one. From predators, to sexting, to cyberbullies and the pressure to be “liked”, girls and their smartphones are nearly (if not totally) inseparable.
Perhaps this scenario is familiar to you:
Your young daughter and her friends walk into the house and head straight to her room, shutting the door. For a fleeting moment, you wonder if you should check on her, but you’ve got things you’re doing. And, after all, she’s a good kid.
Hours pass and the only sounds you’ve heard are giggles and muffled conversation. Your daughter knows you don’t want her on social media for too many hours a day. You’ve talked in the past about limiting screen time and to ask permission before using social media like Snapchat and Instagram.
In fact, you follow her accounts regularly and even have access to her accounts. But, you don’t check them very often because you trust her. You miss the stranger messaging with her about meeting up. This is 90 percent of the reason most parents miss the inappropriate conversations: we love them too much to believe they could make such a silly mistake.
What can you do to make sure your daughter is safe on social media platforms?
First, you’ve got to know the risks involved when girls access Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube, to name just a few. There are strangers who reach out to kids, grooming and luring them. It takes only a few minutes for strangers to build trust and get personal information from a young adult. A. Few. Minutes.
Other risks include cyberbullies, sexting and, of course, the health toll (both mentally and physically) social media can impart.
There’s also another risk: the lure of becoming an ‘influencer’ where “likes” equal popularity and a false sense of self. Getting affirmation and validation in your developmental years is crucial and with the ability to become an “influencer’ it is nearly impossible to get them to understand how fleeting that will be.
It’s important that you empower young women to be safe on social media.
5 tips to keep your daughter safe on social media
Keep an eye on her social media accounts. Read the public conversations. If you don’t have access to her account, you need to. It is important to read those private conversations, too. Watch what she posts — are her posts cries for help? Are they scantily clad images of her and her friends? Are they bullying someone else? Knowing what she’s doing online is the first step to keeping her safe.
Set limits on screen time
Kids should spend no more than three hours a day on their devices absorbing social media content. Put boundaries in place that dictate when they can be on their phones or tablets (for example, allowing some time after all the homework is completed for the day).
This may be difficult, especially since fake accounts (spam accounts or Finstas) are always a workaround, but have access to your daughter’s social media accounts as I mentioned above. Share your account with her friends, they are typically less vigilant about what you see than your own child.
Set privacy settings
Any child — male or female — should have their accounts locked down. They should never use their full name, never identify where they live and their accounts should be absolutely private. On Facebook, you can require that the only people who can add your child know their emails and be friends of friends, etc.
Keep communication open
Stay connected with your child and always be open to conversations.