Just like how you teach children how to behave in school or in public, teaching them how to behave online is no different. Our lives have become increasingly digitised, and online etiquette is becoming more and more important. Research shows that 87% of teens are active users of social media.
As part of our mission to raise awareness for young people’s mental health problems through our Headucation classes in schools, we want to equip parents with the skills and knowledge they need to educate children and young people on how to act positively on social media.
This article will be discussing how parents can play an active role in teaching their children how to act positively on social media.
In the past, we were limited to the opinions of our social group and the discourse of our local community. With the rise of the internet, we are more connected than ever before. We have access to opinions from people from every corner of the globe.
Although this can be a force for good, it requires a level of maturity to respect other people’s opinions, respond to disagreements critically or keep scrolling if you disagree.
Respecting others’ opinions means acknowledging that people have different views, beliefs, and perspectives on various issues. It also means recognising that everyone has the right to express their opinions without fear of being ridiculed or attacked.
It is important that we teach children about the diversity that exists on the internet, and how she should respect people’s opinions without being rude or disrespectful.
Encourage empathy and understanding
Encouraging empathy and understanding is another vital aspect of positive online behaviour. This means helping your children put themselves in other people’s shoes and understand how their words and actions can impact others.
Children can often forget about the fact that on the other side of the interaction is another human being. The shield of anonymity that digital interactions have can be a slippery slope into bullying and rude behaviour.
It is important to foster empathy so they learn early on about proper internet etiquette.
Educate them on cyberbullying
Many children may not be aware of the harmful impacts of cyberbullying. Although many parents teach the protocol for if they feel they are a victim of cyberbullying, many parents forget to teach their children not to cyberbully others.
It is important that the conversation on cyberbullying goes both ways. This way not only are they protected, but other children are protected too. This also teaches them about empathy and respect for others online.
Encourage them to share positive and uplifting content
Social media can be a cause for good, and it is important to have conversations with children about how they can be a positive role model online. As a parent, it is important to monitor the type of content your child shares online, it is also important to encourage them to share positive and uplifting content.
Some ideas for positive content that they can post include:
- Any creative work they have done
- Posting positive comments
- Sharing positive news stories
- Supporting positive causes
- Sharing photos of their pets
- Happy family moments
Encourage them to be supportive and look out for others
To foster a positive online community, it is important to teach children how to be supportive and encouraging of their online peers. If a friend has posted something positive, teach them how to comment something supportive.
Similarly, if they see any negative or dangerous content, teach them how to report it and when to speak to an adult about what they have seen. This helps create an environment where children feel positive about their time on social media.
Teach them how to deal with negative comments or interactions positively
Of course, the internet won’t always be a positive environment, and it is important to equip children with the skills and knowledge on how to deal with negativity in a positive way.
It is important to help children understand that not everyone will like them. Teach them that not everyone will like them or agree with them online, just as in real life. Help them develop a thick skin and understand that negative comments are not a reflection of their worth.
If they feel they are being bullied online, teach them to speak to a trusted adult immediately and block any negative accounts. Similarly, teach them not to respond to negativity and this can often escalate the situation.
Monitor their social media use
It is important for parents and carers to monitor young people’s social media accounts. Make sure to check their:
- Watch history
- Liked photos
- Followers/following list
- Direct messages
- Privacy settings
- Content they have uploaded
- Time spent on social media apps
- Location settings
Encourage Offline Interactions
Excessive social media consumption can be damaging for children’s mental health. To promote good mental health, be sure to set time limits on the amount of social media time your child is allowed per day. It is important to make sure they participate in offline activities such as sports, art classes and family time.
Shawmind has a mental health awareness mission to improve children and teen’s mental health across the nation. We want to provide early intervention to prevent a further mental health crisis. If you want to support Headucation, please donate or choose to do one of our mental health courses. Alternatively, you can book Headucation for your school.