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Helping your kids safely navigate the world of social media

Last Updated Sep 6, 2018 at 6:41 am PDT

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If you catch your kids doing something they shouldn't be, talk about it openly

Make sure kids aren't giving up too much information online and just accepting anyone as a 'friend'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – From online bullying to peer pressure, going back to school in the social media era can present some unique challenges for your kids. How can you best prepare them?

One expert suggests the main thing is to not act as a pure authoritarian. Lindsay Sealey, a Vancouver-based educational and personal development specialist, said you need to have their trust — and that means an open dialogue.

“We want to make sure that kids aren’t giving too much information up online and that they don’t have their locations on, and they’re just being really smart about who they accept as their ‘friend.'”

Sealey believes girls who “just want to be included” especially need to heed this warning. “I think they’re accepting everyone… even if they don’t know them. [They may think] some friend is better than no friends… No, you have to be very discerning because you really don’t know who people are.”

There is a big difference between using social media for fun or learning and placing far too much importance on it.

“Right now I feel like so many kids are just using it (social media) as something to do. They’re searching for attention, validation, approval and really just deriving self-worth from their likes and followers,” Sealey said.

She said it’s about both what they are receiving and putting out into the digital space. “And the idea that they do have a digital footprint and they’re responsible for being kind and respectful and appropriate with their posts.”

You want them to come to you with any questions or concerns, not try to hide things. So, even if you catch them doing something they shouldn’t be, it’s important to talk about it openly.

“I think these kinds of conversations do get kids thinking. They do listen. That can shape their behaviour,” Sealey said.

 РWith files from John Ackermann