It seems as though nearly every teenager is on social media these days, but do parents really know what their kids are up to? Although Facebook has become the social media for “older people,” Instagram and Vine are immensely popular with the younger crowd, with Twitter appealing to a mix of all ages. With such a wide variety of people on these sites with your teens, it’s important to know the basics of social media safety.
Social Media Tip for Parents
As with any aspect of parenting, knowing what your kids are up to and who they are involved with is the first step in ensuring their safety. Here are some tips for better handling your kids’ online activities:
- Make sure their general and specific settings are all set private.
- Turn off the “location tagging” function as this shows exactly where you are.
- Don’t let just anyone look at your kid’s profile – make sure they are only approving requests from people that they actually know in real life. This is hard to police, but you have to set up rules and then enforce the rules. It takes effort, but this part is very important.
- Hashtags can be a teen’s favorite part of social media, but it also exposes their tweets to every person on Twitter. If possible, discourage the use of hashtags.
- Your teen has the ability to look at anything they want and talk to anyone they want through social media. Between Vine, Instagram and Twitter, there are bound to be some things that are inappropriate for them to see. You should be aware of this.
- The best way to monitor your kids’ online activity is to have access to their account. One way is to load their account on your own phone and then you can monitor their activity on a regular basis.
The Big Picture
It is important that kids and teenagers realize that their social media posts are seen by a large audience and can have severe consequences. It may seem dramatic, but there have been many cases where a teen posted something inappropriate or offensive to a classmate, teacher, future employer or college.
Remind your kids that anything they publish online today could still be found 10 or 20 years later. As a rule of thumb, tell them to ask themselves whether they would feel comfortable with their grandparents seeing whatever it is they’re about to post. If not, don’t post it.
A constant line of communication with your kids about their social media experiences can also help ensure that they are not victims – or even perpetrators – of cyberbullying. With a little effort, we can all figure this out and make sure that our kids stay safe online.