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What is Social Media Screening and Why it Matters For Your Kids

April 30, 2021
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So, after months of begging, groveling and nagging, you’ve finally caved and given your child their very first smartphone.

Inevitably, after you hand them their mobile phone, they quickly download all the social media platforms, so they can chat with their friends and hang out with them online. 

For most parents (it’s not just you) the idea of your kids using social media is scary, but why wouldn’t you? Social media wasn’t initially designed for children. Originally, social media platforms, like Facebook, were created for college students and YouTube was designed to be a video dating site. 

But, despite originally being built for other purposes, here we are today, with children as young as 13 using social media. It is as much of a rite of passage, as MSN Messenger was to Millennials, or MySpace was for Gen X. So, all you can do is try to protect your children as much as possible online by ensuring they understand the potential risks of posting on social media.

What we know about social media

Social media is a great way for us all to stay in touch with your friends and family, meet new people with similar interests, and share photos and videos of delicious food or Instagrammable views. With social media platforms and smartphones, it’s become so easy for kids to chat with their grandparents or friends with just a simple video call on their smartphone. 

But, for all of the pros of social media, there are a number of cons to be aware of:

  • It’s possible that your child might accidentally share more than they should or mean to when using social media. Sometimes it’s not their fault, it’s just the way that the platform was designed, other times they might not know who can actually access their information online. 
  • Although social media is a great source of entertainment for kids, they can also face cyberbullying by one person or a group of people
  • Social media can negatively impact children’s self-esteem and body image, so it’s important to monitor who they follow online and what they engage with
  • Children can become addicted to social media – especially the positive feelings they get from ‘likes’, which is why it’s important to limit their time on the platforms. This, and you don’t want social media to distract them from important things, like homework

With social media platforms popping up left and right, it’s always hard to keep track of what’s safe and what’s not. So instead of asking your children to explain to you what each platform does, we always suggest downloading it and taking a look for yourself. You will probably learn more this way than having someone (or your child) vaguely explain it to you. 

Start a conversation with your kids

So, how do we do this? Talking and listening to your kids is key. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to get your kids to open up about what they’re thinking – especially in their teens. But, with a little persistence, you can learn more about why they want social media and what they want to get out of it. Social media isn’t going anywhere, so your kids need to learn how to use it safely and responsibly. 

Some questions you can ask your kids to start this conversation could be:

  • What app(s) do you want to use and why?
  • What are some things to keep in mind before posting something on social media?
  • Do you know what to do if someone harasses you or bullies you online?
  • What might upset you about social media, and how do you think you would deal with it? 
  • Can you walk me through your favorite apps and how they work?

Talking and understanding your children and why they want to be on these platforms can help you build a stronger relationship with them. You never know, you might also find yourself enjoying the platforms and can bond over it (family TikTok dances anyone?).

So, your child is already on social media? 

What do you do now? 

You’ve already given them their smartphone, and they’ve been on it for years, but you haven’t had the social media talk, and you’re afraid they’ve posted some negative or very personal information on multiple platforms. 

What’s next? You can run a social media screen on your child’s social accounts.

What is social media screening? It’s a process that employers and colleges do to review a candidate’s social media pages to learn more about them. Through this process, they will highlight any red flags that might hinder them from hiring or offering your child a spot or scholarship. But, you can always get ahead of these employers and college admissions offices by starting your own social media scan for your child today.

There are a number of different resources out there that can help you teach your child to be proactive, rather than reactive on their social media channels. However, you’ll need to start with a social media scrubbing tool, like LifeBrand, to make sure they put their right foot forward when it comes to their digital footprint. 

Find out more about how LifeBrand can help you to protect your child’s online reputation by detecting and deleting harmful posts.