Being social: learning about (and through) social media

Child playing an online game on a tablet device
Primary school 8-12 years

It’s increasingly common for children to have social media accounts (even in Primary School), so learning how to use these responsibly is an important skill they need to develop. Brush up on your own knowledge and find more resources to help your child become a socially savvy master of media!

Social media is a pretty broad term that refers to websites and applications that enable people to create and share content, or participate in social networking. The big ones such as Facebook and Instagram are widely known, but did you realise that many children have social media accounts associated with online games, or online learning communities? If your child has a username and can post comments or chat online, they have a social media account.

Online gaming sites and learning communities are common places for children to have social media accounts. It’s easy to set these up, so make sure you know what your child is using your computer for, and that they check with you before filling out a form that asks for a name or username. Check the privacy policy of the site together and talk about what it means. If you decide to let your child create an account, teach them the basics of choosing safe usernames and passwords and keeping them secure; and set up the privacy settings together.

Schools are increasingly creating secure online learning communities that enable students to interact with each other and their teachers to discuss topics, work collaboratively and submit assignments. This can be a good way for them to learn the techniques and etiquette of social media, and how to use it responsibly; and to become aware of online issues such as bullying and scams.

When your child wants to set up a social networking account on one of the main public platforms, it important to remember that many have age restrictions, so make sure the platform your child wants to sign up to is appropriate for their age.

Use the resources of the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner to get the latest expert advice on how to keep safe online, and make sure you discuss it with your child.

If you are wondering whether you should be their online ‘friend’, the short answer is yes. However this may be difficult with platforms such as game or special interest forums that you may not have an active involvement in. By being your child’s online friend, you can see what your child is posting and give them guidance if needed. There’s a great video where leading child and adolescent psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, discusses this very issue.

Last modified on Friday 28 April 2017 [2836|11231]

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