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A new social media contract to protect kids online.

Child on Computer

Courtesy of:  Adeliiinka

iMom.com has recently released their own version of a social contract; the “Social Media Contract for Kids” as they have labeled it. The website, iMom, offers information and tips for parents with young children with helpful articles such as “5 Hard Topics to Talk About.” And this week they released this free printable contract to help parents set guidelines for their children who are active on social network sites.

The contract is between parents and their children, and it is divided into categories such as how children should set up their account, what they should share, and how they should behave online. There is also a section for consequences if they break these rules and even an area for the child’s signature on the bottom, agreeing to the set conditions. The contract is filled with points such as children should not post photos or information before their parent’s consent. And statements like, “I will not meet anyone in person who I have met through social media” or, “I understand that the posting of certain types of photos and information on social media sites is punishable by law.”

And while this social contract may be a step in the right direction, it is acknowledged as only a starting point for parents discussing the dangers of social network websites with their children. Children are a very sensitive case when it comes to social networks because they are becoming more active online from an earlier age, and while being so young, they are unaware of many of the dangers which seem obvious to older users. For example, they are likely to miss the dangers of publishing a tweet saying that they and their family are going on a weeklong vacation to Mexico.

For these reasons there needs to be more action taken when it comes to regulating children on social network sites. A written contract such as this one is a great start, but more needs to be done. It should be acknowledged that a child of ten years old cannot make the same sensible decisions as a forty year old. And yet, there seems to be no distinction between safety regulations and guidelines between the two groups. One change could be that children up to a certain age could only add other users within their own network from school or even camp. This way they wouldn’t be exposed to the potential dangers of adding users who they are not personally acquainted with. Limiting who they could be ‘friends’ with on a website such as Facebook, could be a good way to protect these children’s online presence.

To see the contract, click here to download the PDF.

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