9 Tips To Keep Your Child Safe On Social Media
We live in a new era, a social media era. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, KiK, Snapchat, Telegram, Whatsapp, WeChat, whatever the platform is there is no denying that social media infiltrates every aspect of our lives. Therefore social media security for parents is a must know.
For some, perhaps even most, social media is the biggest form of communication outside of the workplace. We are obsessed with sharing every detail, every photo of our everyday lives with our friends or followers. While this can be a fantastic tool for say, families who live apart, it can also be a way of letting people in our lives who we wouldn’t ordinarily meet.
This is the single most terrifying thought for parents with children coming to the age of wanting social media accounts. Children are so blissfully unaware of the dangers lurking out there on the internet. This leads them to share intimate details publicly online can leave them vulnerable to predators. Predators who have honed their “skills” over time and know exactly what to look for. But, rather than denying our children the chance to interact with friends over social media outside of school, there are ways to keep them safe. Here, I will discuss some simple ways to ensure your children remain safe in this new and complex world.
MAKING THE RULES
Firstly, the biggest thing parents need to understand and to stress upon their children is that having social media accounts is a privilege, not a right. Remember, YOU are the parent. YOU are the one who needs to set the rules for the use of social media. There needs to be a simple consequence for not following these rules – no more social media.
Children want to feel accepted. They want to be like their peers to fit in. One of the ways they achieve this is by having Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik, WhatsApp and the like. But, here are some simple rules you should enforce:
This is the most important rule. You set the password with your child and inform them that the password is not to be changed under any circumstance. Set up a recovery email and/or phone number that belongs to YOU. This way you will receive a notification if the password has been reset.
If you find yourself locked out of the account due to a password change, request a password reset to the email and lock them out of the account.
It is best that the profile picture (which is public) be a generic picture, such as of a pet or a favourite image. This is the picture that is visible to everyone, including predators, so best not to show an image of
While teenagers may think that a mirror selfie in a bikini is cool, I can assure you that predators like these images as well. Teach your child to be very careful
Similarly, images of school uniforms can lead to a predator knowing where they attend school and can be very dangerous. Review every photo your child uploads and if you don’t approve of it, remove it.
Facebook and Instagram have a whole bunch of privacy settings that need to be reviewed regularly to ensure your child is safe. On Facebook, features may default to the “public” setting after updates. So, you need to make sure you review each aspect of the privacy settings and timeline and tagging settings to see who can see your child’s site, posts and photos. Ensure that the settings are changed to “friends only” or “friends of friends” depending on what you are comfortable with. Bear in mind, however, that although “friends of friends” seems innocent enough, some of you child’s friends could have 1000 plus so call “friends” on their page. Most of these “friends” they do not know, so be cautious with this setting.
Instagram is much the same, ensure that your child’s account is set to a “private” account and educate them in relation to unsolicited emails they may receive. The best rule to apply here is if you don’t know them, delete the message.
Most of us think hashtags are funny additions to our posts. What a lot don’t realise is that this immediately turns our private post into a public one. If you don’t understand what this means for the safety of your child, go to Instagram and type in a hashtag. Something like #girlsonthebeach and scroll through the number of posts on there that are from private accounts. To keep private posts private, don’t use hashtags in posts.
Tagging -Facebook & Instagram
Another feature you want to be careful about is “Tagging.” This is when friends ‘tag’ someone they know in an image on their page. Seems innocent enough. However, if that friend has 1500 people on their Facebook friends list, this is 1500 people you don’t know who can see the image of your child. Facebook does have a feature in which you have to approve tags before they appear on your timeline. This is a feature you should enable.
Many teenagers who use social media think having a large friends list makes them appear popular. So, the more people who add them the better. When in reality, your child cannot personally be friends with 1500 or 2000 people. They accept requests from people unknown to them or you. A simple rule to apply here is if your child does not personally know them, do not add them.
If you have Facebook set to allow friend requests from “friends of friends” you can imagine how many people your child can suddenly have on their Facebook page. People who can now see their every move and every photo. This opens the door to people you just don’t want speaking to your child. Would you allow your daughter or son to speak to random adults at all hours of the day or night without your supervision? Then why would you allow it online?
This is a big one. Facebook has a feature called “checking in” where you can tag yourself at your favourite location and share it on your page. While this is fine if you are out in a public space, many teenagers and indeed adults use this feature to tag themselves at home. What this does is pinpoints them on a map and advertises their home address for everyone and anyone to see. It is fairly self-explanatory why this is extremely dangerous and something you should educate your child on.
Similarly, applications such as Snapchat have a location feature. One where you can accurately locate the other person ‘snapping’ you through the app. However, the location settings default to ‘Ghosting’ meaning your location is not automatically displayed. It is best to check to see if your child has turned this feature on. If so, turn it off and educate them to the dangers of sharing your location online.
Lastly, teach your children about stranger danger. Tell them that there are people out there who target children and it’s best to not speak to anyone unless you know them. While you don’t need to be specific about why predators are targeting children, if they know these people are bad they will be less inclined to want to speak to them.
Most of all, stay involved. While it may seem like a lot of effort, constantly checking your child’s social media accounts, privacy settings, messages and friends list is the best way to ensure their safety and security online.
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