A large part of our modern life means connecting with people online. We need to learn how to do it right and we need to be aware of the impact it can have on our self-worth, confidence, social skills and mental health. And we need to know when to take a break, so as not to miss all the other opportunities that life brings to us.

Our top tips:

  • Delay letting your child have sole use of a smartphone or tablet for as long as possible, but at least until Grade 7;
  • Apply the principle that smart devices are “loaned not owned”;
  • Agree a cell phone contract with your child;
  • Know what social media apps or games your kids and their friends are using;
  • Guide them on what is age appropriate and what they should NOT be using. Block websites, apps and games that are not age-appropriate – for their safety and sanity, both now and in the teen years coming.
  • Monitor and filter which apps and games they download;
  • Delay social media for as long as you can (the experts recommend till 16), but definitely until high school, keeping in mind that –

    o Instagram tops the list of social media apps for cyberbullying;
    o Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat are real age rated 15+ for important reasons, teen mental health, predator access and pornography being prime;
    o There is no reason at all that tweens and teens should access anonymous, hook-up apps, where they can chat to strangers.
    o There is no “soft porn” online, it is (nothing like dad’s Playboy mags) XXX-rated and easily accessed through all social media apps and pop-up ads in many games;

  • Teach them to THINK before they post – is it:
    o True
    o Helpful
    o Inspiring
    o Necessary
    o Kind

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