About our guest blogger: Officer D.J. Schoeff has been proudly serving as a School Resource Officer for the past 8 years. He is a board member for the Indiana School Resource Officers Association and a Regional Director for the National Association of School Resource Officers. Follow him on LinkedIn. Learn more about Guest Blogging for SafeSmartSocial.com
In this day and age it’s important to keep kids safe online. Over the past eight years, I have witnessed a great transition in the world of social media. From MySpace to Facebook to Twitter, to Instagram, Vine, Snapchat and others, the world of social media and its impact on young people is ever-changing.
As an adult responsible for helping our youth succeed in life, I have learned tactical tips that I share with parents and educators about student online safety and staying up to date with the ever-changing social media landscape.
Important tips to help parents and teachers navigate today’s social media environment and keep kids safe online
- Become social media savvy
- Set ground rules
- Model positive behavior online
- Be active and positive
Without thinking we give our children technology with little or no guidance.— Off. D.J. Schoeff
Many parents and educators are flat-out afraid of social media. As a result, they may default to their children to figure it out—in spite of the fact that they rarely do this in other major transitions in our kids’ lives. When children are young, parents encourage them to walk while teaching them to stay out of the street. Parents warn their children to avoid electrical outlets and hot stoves, and they explain why. Later, when kids reach driving age, parents certainly don’t expect them to teach themselves. They have them take driving lessons and later ride with them, giving direction, pointers and reminders.
Yet, sometimes without thinking, we give our children technology which connects them to an endless pit of choices that can impact their lives significantly—offering little or nothing in the way of guidance. It is important that we dig in and learn about social media so we can talk about the right and wrong ways to use it, helping kids avoid pitfalls that can be dangerous and all too real.
Learn as much as you can, then engage your children in the responsible use of social media.— Off. D.J. Schoeff
I often have parents come to me and ask that I recommend children never use social media. Although there are some age and maturity questions to be considered for some sites, I tend to avoid advising kids to shun social media entirely. Much of the parents’ fear stems from a lack of knowledge. The truth is that some sites are safer than others, and safer still if you set solid ground rules. The more we dig in and discover the ins and outs of social media, this lack of knowledge will be less of a concern. So learn as much as you can, then engage your children in the responsible use of social media.
When it comes to social media, children are best guided by modeled behavior. —Officer D.J. Schoeff
Use social media. Children are best guided by modeled behavior. As the youthful mind continues to observe your mature and appropriate use of social media, it learns. What better way to model suitable behavior during these formative years than connecting with kids via social media?
The more you promote the appropriate use of social media, the more likely youth will put it to positive use themselves. Integrate it into your classroom and your home life. Actively use it for communication. The more comfortable you are using social media, the more opportunities will arise for open conversation about social media between you and your children.
Despite the uncertainties, it is important that we take some risks and get involved with social media. Rather than outlaw them entirely, we should become aware of what apps and sites are out there, take time to engage in them ourselves, and foster open communication with our children. This is the ticket to guide them into safe online conduct that creates success and enjoyment.