Social Media Safety

Social Media Safety

Parents should actively monitor and guide how their teenagers use social media. These tips from Child Development Institute can help.

  • Wait until 13. That’s the age required to open accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. Enforce the age restrictions in your home.
  • Connect. Set up your own accounts and require that your child connect with you via all social media sites, and monitor their activity.
  • Check privacy settings. Be sure your child sets up appropriate privacy settings to avoid revealing too much personal information online. On Facebook, for example, only friends should see what your child is posting.
  • Monitor usage. Monitor your child’s usage with tools like NetNanny or Teensafe. Learn what sites your child visits, how long they stay there, and their general online activity.
  • Keep the computer in common areas. Keep the computer where it’s available to and visible to everyone in the home.
  • Teach about Internet consequences and dangers. Teach children to think long and hard before they post anything, and to never give out personal information.

The social media basics

Although Facebook is widely used by adults, it’s less popular among teens. Provocative posts often go viral and are spread to strangers.

Twitter allows users to share brief messages. The catch: Tweets often go viral and get seen by more people than intended.

Danger! These apps can spell trouble for kids

Teens today use any of a wide array of stealth apps, or good old-fashioned deception, to share profane text messages, racy photos or other inappropriate material with each other.

For example, an app icon may resemble a calculator, but actually be used to share photos.

As a parent, you aren’t without help. There are a couple of ways to determine if your child is hiding social media apps, including being aware—and wary of—deceptive apps.

Snapchat lets users send photos that disappear after a few seconds. Since it can be used to send inappropriate material, TeenSafe.com warns parents to be wary of allowing teens to use Snapchat.

Photo Hider, App Locker, and Calculator% are older apps that let users hide media and activity.

Poof hides other apps kids don’t want parents to find. It’s technically no longer available, but some kids still have the app.

Vaulty is an Android app that lets users hide photos, videos and other media away from the main storage in a password-protected vault. It even takes a picture of any person who types in the wrong password.

Hide It Pro allows users to hide media; the app itself is disguised as an “Audio Manager” for the smart phone. Pressing and holding the app screen reveals a lock screen behind which users hide media.

Warning signs that your child is trying to hide activity from you: missing browser history, obvious missing chunks from text conversations.

Be a Parent, Not a “Sharent”

It’s one thing to be a proud parent; it’s another to simply share too much about your children online.

It’s called sharenting. Any loving parent is susceptible to crossing that invisible line that separates warm or funny moments from boastful tedium.

Some blogs and websites are dedicated to celebrating the most uncomfortable examples of over-sharing.

  • Good sharing: first day back-to-school pics, which have become a neat way parents to chronicle their children growing up.
  • Over sharing: “cutesy” pictures of children in bathtubs or naked may seem harmless but are not a good idea.
  • Good sharing: your child’s first attempt at baking a misshapen, lopsided cupcake.
  • Over sharing: A parent posted a photo of her child’s vomit on the kitchen floor with the caption “This is what I had to clean up today.”

Because your child may not understand your online life, think about what they would prefer before making an impulsive post you may regret later. If you’re not sure, ask them if they would mind what you plan to share about them.