What steps can I take to keep kids safe on social media?
Author: Sara Lucero
Social media is a great way for kids to keep in touch with their friends and develop their interests as well as other benefits. However, most kids aren’t aware of the dangers of social media. Viruses, privacy, internet safety, the list goes on. Parents need to learn and teach children the best practices for their kids’ safety and protection. There are also steps that parents should take to block access to any content which may compromise their safety. Below are some of the most important things to teach kids to keep them safe and ways you can further help to protect them.
Rules to teach your kids
- Not to use a screen name that is their real name or gives away their identity. Ensure they don’t fill in personal information such as the school they go to.
- Make sure kids don’t accept any friend requests from people they don’t know and only add friends online who are their friends in real life. Encourage them not to become friends with people they meet online because you don’t know who’s sitting behind a computer screen and they might not be who they say they are.
- Teach kids to keep private information to themselves and not to share it on social media. Information such as their address should under no circumstances be shared on social media. Even answers to security questions such as the name of their first pet should be kept private because it could provide information that allows people to hack their account. If your child uses a debit card make sure they never give away the details or transfer money without your permission.
- Check any images that your kids want to upload before they upload them. If they want to upload images which show your house or location then you should advise them not to upload these images as they could give away their address to strangers online.
- Cyberbullying is a common problem on social media. Make sure your kid knows they can come to you if they ever feel upset, threatened or bullied by anyone on social media. If they are a victim, look to follow the advice from Child Mind to help them.
Actions you can take
- Login and set their privacy settings when they create their account. Ensure that any personal information is shared with friends only and that no one else can see their pictures of account information. Make sure that ‘public search results’ is turned off so that their account can’t be found in search results.
- Install parental control that restricts content that is not considered suitable for children. Use ‘safesearch’ browser controls to help prevent kids from seeing inappropriate content.
- Carry out searches of your child every couple of weeks to check that you can’t find them online. If you can find them, then it means that strangers could too. If you find personal details, look to remove them from search results by either updating privacy settings or deleting the information.
- Make sure your child is on the right type of account. If your kid is under 13 they should be using ‘Messenger Kids’ instead of Facebook Messenger and are not legally permitted to join many social media platforms.
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