This article originally appeared on 60 Second Social.

Christmas is fast approaching and one of the most popular devices among young teenagers and young adults these days is either a smartphone, tablet or computer. With many children all over the country bound to receive a present along these lines it can be hard or somewhat daunting for parents to know where to begin when it comes to monitoring your child and keeping them safe online.

You can keep them safe and secure without being overly intrusive and in their face, the reality is that the internet can be a wonderful fun place but there is also a very dark side to it. Behind the anonymity of a keyboard people become very brave and unleash a side of them that they would not do in every day life.

With gadgets like these falling into young hands, one of the first things they will likely do is start getting onto those social media platforms. Here are some tips on what you can do to keep them safe this holiday season.

No Underage Social Media

Children as young as 10 years old are getting smartphones these days…10! Hard to believe and personally I would not give my child a smartphone when they are that young but I know several people who have given their children smartphones. Did you know that many social media platforms, such as Facebook have a policy that does not permit anyone under the age of 13 to join?

There is no way for Facebook to enforce it however you can. It is probably for the best to keep your child away from social media until they are the required age to join as outlined by the website policies.

Use Filtering Software

There are software suites you can purchase to monitor your child’s Internet usage. For older teens this may not be as appropriate however for young to mid teenagers, a tool like this will allow you to view what keys were typed, time spent online and computer activity in general. Net Nanny is a popular example of one of these suites. It may seem to be intrusive to some however awareness can be the best form of protection. Using these tools you can allow your child the freedom of exploring social media while monitoring their activity, should your child do something not appropriate it can then be addressed. You can filter content, block chats and more.

Set Ground Rules

If your child is old enough to use a computer then they are old enough to understand that there are rules they need to abide by. Breaking these rules should not have a lesser consequence than breaking rules in the offline world. Create ground rules on your terms and make it clear what the consequences of breaking these ground rules will be.

Place The Computer In A Central Location

Children like to scurry away into a dark corner, back to the wall and not have you looking over their shoulder at the screen. You can keep an easy check on what they are doing online by having the computer placed in a central location such as the living room or dining room. This way everything is out in the open and the computer will be in a high traffic zone instead of the secluded privacy of their own room.

Educate Children On Popups And “Free Giveaways”

Pop-ups appear on our screen telling us we have won free iPads by simply clicking the link, filling out the form and so on. Most of us know to dismiss these however children are particularly susceptible so make sure that you educate them on these pop-ups. Warn them not to click on them and and not participate in them.

Teach You Children About Online Reputation

Many children, particularly teenagers don’t seem to understand the implications of what they post on social media and how that can impact them offline. Stress to your children what a digital footprint is and the impact of posting inappropriate content if a future college administrator or employer were to find it. Remember, universities and employers are checking up on our social media profiles now more than ever before.

Learn About Social Media Apps And Websites

If your child asks if they can join a social media website, or if you notice them using an app you have not seen before, then educate yourself about what it is they are using. Read up on the social media platforms, learn what each one does and what the differences are. By doing this you can understand and make informed decisions about whether it is something your child should be using or not.

You don’t need to do all of these things, mix it up. Find a system that works for you, use a few of the tips (or all of them if you want to) and come to a middle ground with your child when it comes to signing up to social media platforms or general internet usage. Being a control freak is not the important point here, what is important is implementing some form of system to keep an eye on what your child is doing online.

No child should be allowed to roam in the internet completely free and sign up to whatever they want and use it however they please. There should be ground rules in place and implementing these rules could save much drama down the line from ever happening thus making your online experience with your child much more enjoyable.

About The Author

Mark is the founder of 60 Second Social media where he provides social media news and digital marketing analysis, he is also a proud father of his bearded dragon, Lola. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow 60 Second Social on Twitter here.

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