Teaching Kids How to Use Social Networks Safely, Responsibly
Social networking is here to stay, and kids need to be taught how to handle these online tools responsibly. Just as you'd never give a teen the keys to a car without first teaching them how to drive, a child should never be allowed access to social networking sites on the Internet without first being taught the basics of how to share responsibly. These tips will help you teach kids how to stay safe and maintain their dignity when sharing content with others online.
Safe social networking rule #1: Is it parent approved?
Teach teens this rule: If you wouldn't be comfortable with your parents or teachers seeing it, or if you wouldn't be willing to stand in the middle of Times Square and shout this information, then it shouldn't be posted on the Internet. You should be realistic and let them know that you're well aware that they may do things with their friends that they wouldn't want to tell you about. That's understandable. But in these cases, the Internet is not the proper venue to talk or post pictures about such activities. In the same way that a group can only travel as fast as its littlest or weakest member, what you post publicly online for the world to see should be written for the most prudish reader.
Safe social networking rule #2: Never post when angry
One of the most difficult yet most important rules to follow is this: never post anything when you're upset or angry. Turn off the computer and go for a walk instead. It's wisdom older than your grandmother, yet there's good reason for this advice: when emotional centers for anger are activated in your mind, these signals actually suppress activity in the prefrontal cortex and other reasoning centers of the brain. In other words, that's polite science-speak for saying ANGRY PEOPLE BECOME STUPID. Literally!
When you're angry, you're not thinking...not rationally or intelligently at least. So in these moments it's best to walk away from it all, calm down, and collect your thoughts. The Internet isn't going anywhere. There's plenty of time to respond later, and absolutely nothing gained by letting something go for a bit. In fact, not responding immediately to voice your feelings almost always makes you appear more mature and intelligent, and if someone is trying to upset you, chomping at the bit to slander them back only lets them know they're getting under your skin.
Safe social networking rule #3: Don't spill family dirt