It’s no lie, we live in a digital world and I’m a digital girl…

We sell digital day-in-and-day-out. We constantly talk about how great digital advertising and social media is – and it really is! But who is telling you about the dangers of social media? Who is protecting your kids against the dangers of social media?

I am not a mother to a human child and therefore my human parenting skills are limited, if not absent. But I am very involved in the digital world and therefore my experience and observations are very in-tune, not only to the positives but the negatives too.

To put it in context, I am at the stage of my life where my friends are raising children and the “kids” in my own family are now starting to come into their own. With each birthday, comes a new trend and now social media has become part of that growing up process. Let’s just say that when I turned thirteen, I was allowed to spend two hours at the mall. Today you get to be on Instagram and Facebook. The point I’m trying to make is that my world was very “sheltered” in that the people I encountered were my friends and the amount of control on who, how and where I conducted myself was very limited. In those days photographs were only taken on special occasions and selfies never existed.

Today, everything has changed. Our lives are up for public display and everything you do and say is scrutinised. I feel sorry for our youth because any boy or girl reaching their teens and beyond has a harder time trying to feel accepted. The sad part is that while they are trying to discover themselves (and trying to be social-media-acceptable) the sick world is discovering them – liking posts on Instagram and making random, inappropriate comments – do make the kids feel better about themselves but what they don’t know or understand that the “wrong follower” could be the one that turns their social media fantasy into a real life nightmare.

I do believe wholeheartedly that a girl of 12 years old posts photos innocently, in the hopes of some attention, not actually knowing the attention she may get. I also believe that parents aren’t educated enough to know how bad the Internet can be.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am not a parent, but I am a concerned adult.

Children should be allowed the freedom to explore social media because it has become part of our daily lives. But they need to be supervised.

As parents, you wouldn’t allow your child to pose in front of a few strangers on a playground so why would you allow them to do so on social media, for a billion, yes a billion people to ogle?

This is my advise to parents who wish to allow their children on social media:

  • Make their profiles private so that you can monitor who follows them
  • Don’t let your child pin their locations on their posts
  • Never allow your child to post their cellphone number or BBM pin on social media
  • Be a role model. Don’t post photos you wouldn’t want your child to see
  • Educate and become educated on what happens on social media, it could save your child’s life
  • Be active in your child’s social-media life, but give them space. If you see that they have posted a photo that may be inappropriate, rather discuss the issue and have it removed rather than belittling them. They need your guidance.
  • Don’t make your baby your profile pic and don’t geotag your location.
  • If you are going to post pics of your kids, ensure that your profile is private so that only the people you trust are able to see them.

Unfortunately, protecting children has become a lot harder than it was years ago. The case of the child being reeled in by ISIS via social media is an extreme case, but something that cannot be ignored, because every five minutes a child goes missing in South Africa and while social media is not always to blame, it is a massive consideration in keeping your children safe.

Please take care of your little ones.

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