Children and social networking

Social networking sites are very attracting to young internet surfers, a recent report shows that 81% of children (ages 12-18) use social networking sites in Bahrain and they use them to connect with their family and friends (51.1%), make new friends, share pictures and videos, play games (44.5%).

As a parent or caregiver, the following steps could help you insure your children are using these channels safely:

  1. Try Social Networking yourself: sign up to the social networking sites your child uses, learn more about them and how they work. If you understand the social networking site your child uses, then you can be more comfortable with your child using it, for example, if your child is currently using Instagram or Snapchat, you can download the applications and explore them. You can also add your children as friends and closely monitor their activities, friends and posts. It is recommended that you not interfere with their socializing (unless you find an alarming sign) because your child could easily create another account to keep you out of his/her business.
  2. Communicate with your child: tell your child how you expect him/her to use social networks, and what are they made for.
    • Who to communicate with: Explain to your child that he/she should use social networks to connect with family members, class mates and friends, make sure they understand why contacting people outside your circle of contacts is dangerous, and tell them to never accept friend requests from people they do not know personally or anyone they know you would not approve of.
    • Explain the concept of Stranger=Danger: Research shows that 40.2% of children in Bahrain have initiated contact or contacted a stranger online and 22.7% have added an online stranger to their contact list and 16.4% have met a stranger they met online, in person.
    • Tell them that they should never be pressured into doing something they do not feel comfortable doing. 7.7% of children have been asked to do something unpleasant.
    • Communicate: Make sure they understand you are available in case they need to talk about their online activity or any issue they face online. Only 37.5% of females and 24.4% of male children have shared their unpleasant online experiences with a family member.