How to Keep Kids Safe While Using Social Media

December 19, 2013

When our children are young, we often go to great lengths to keep them safe in their physical environments.  Yet, as our children get older, it becomes more difficult for us to keep them safe as their environments expand beyond physical space and begin to include social media.   As a security expert, I see firsthand what can happen when kids fail to use social media tools in positive ways.  Here are some of my tips on how parents can keep their teens safe while using social media:

Make sure the tools they are using are age appropriate.  Did you know that your child is not allowed to have a Facebook page until they are 13?  Make sure your tweens and teens are using tools that are appropriate for their age and become as familiar as possible with the networks they are using, including reading the network’s privacy policy.

Be their ‘Friend’ or ‘Follower’.  Before you allow your teen to set up a social media profile require that they allow you to become their ‘Friend’ or ‘Follower’ on that particular network (such as Facebook or Twitter).  This way, you can monitor their activity and conversations in a very open and honest way.  I also recommend that parents have access to the usernames and passwords of their child’s accounts.

Discuss what items should-and shouldn’t-be posted.  Let your teens know that they should never give out personal information—even on their profile pages—and that comments and photos they post should only be those items they feel comfortable sharing with you as a parent.  In addition, emphasize to your teens that what happens online usually stays online—messages and photos rarely stay private in the world of social media and cannot be taken back.

Let’s Protect Our Teens

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