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Top Social Media Safety Tips for Teens

Top Social Media Safety Tips for Teens

Let’s face it… we’re parents and we worry about everything, especially when it comes to our teens and social media safety.  There are so many reasons why social media can be extremely dangerous with all of the horror stories of kids being lured, abducted, sexually assaulted, and bullied.

I know your teenager doesn’t want to be told what to do and what not to do, but by offering these guidelines you can set safe parameters for them to explore the entire world of social media without being bullied, ripped off, scammed, or disrespected while they’re just trying to have a good time online.

It is possible for your teen to have a safe, positive experience within the social media world, if the proper boundaries are in place.

First Steps:

  • Make sure your teen’s social media pages are set to private, not public. 
  • Turn off geo-tagging, so they cannot be located from their social media posts.
  • Do not let your teen “friend” people they do not directly know. Teens should NEVER make plans to meet someone they met on social media.
  • Report inappropriate content (bullying, hate speech, obscenity) to the social media platform AND be sure to block the poster.

Social Media Safety tips to talk about with your kids:

  1. How often do they check their settings on all social media pages?

Encourage your child to regularly review the app or social networking privacy settings. Many social networks are set to public by default, meaning anyone can see your child’s posts, pics, and videos.  We would recommend using a ‘friends-only’ setting. Keep your teen accountable, and ask them to participate in their own safety settings on a weekly basis. They will feel like you are entrusting them with the responsibility to take care of themselves, while giving them a task that keeps them safe.

  1. How many social networks are you currently using?

Just like their bedrooms, it is important that children give their social media presence a spring clean every so often.  Remind your child to deactivate any old social media profiles/accounts they may have signed up to. This can help minimize the risk of getting hacked.

  1. Is it possible to copy a photo, video, or snap without the other person knowing?

Explain to your child that anything that appears on a screen can be copied and shared regardless of the privacy features of the services they are using.  Nearly all mobile phones can save what is displayed on screen by pressing a couple of buttons. It is just as easy to capture what is displayed by taking a photo of the screen using a camera or camera phone.  Make sure they understand that once their content is posted online, there is the risk of that photo or video being seen by others forever, so make sure they think twice.

  1. What type of information/photos are okay to share online?

It’s a good idea to give some guidelines about what to avoid discussing or sharing online.  Some children may not understand how quickly content can be shared online, it may be helpful to explain that even by deleting a post/photo it may still be too late, and the content may already have been shared.

  1. Are they accepting friend requests or follows from strangers?

Make sure they understand, that they should only accept friend requests or follows from people that they know.  Tell them that they should not be chatting or messaging with any people online that are not personal friends, because these conversations can lead to dangerous encounters that they will wish they had never started.  Explain that what might seem innocent at first, can have major repercussions later that can’t be undone.

Try to be as open as possible with your teens about these topics, and include them in monitoring their own safety so they will feel that you are entrusting them with newfound responsibility because they are getting older.  

This will make these conversations a lot easier, and ultimately bring you closer to your teen, empowering them to feel like they can talk to you about anything.

Here some links if you would like additional information on social media safety:

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  

Check out our kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.

Child Safety in the ‘Online World’

Child Safety in the ‘Online World’

online safety for kids

How do we keep children safe in the ‘online world?  I know the ‘ordinary world’ we live in can be extremely difficult to navigate (especially with kids).  The ‘virtual world’ is no different.   Our responsibility can get even more complicated as parents.  It makes me wonder how can we protect our children effectively in this ‘brave new world?’  How are we supposed to keep them safe from something that is nearly impossible to control?

Online Safety Tips for Kids:

I didn’t have a guide for how to handle the internet with my children, but now I do.  Check out my top internet preparation tips to make sure going online is a positive experience for both you and your kids:

online safety for kids

1. Discover the Internet together

Be the one to introduce your child to the internet, because for both us as parents and children  it is an advantage to discover the internet together.  Try to find websites that are exciting and fun so that together you achieve a positive attitude when it comes to surfing the web.  This could make it easier to share both positive and negative experiences in the future so that your children will come to you for anything.

2. Set rules with your child for Internet use 

Try to reach an agreement with your child on the guidelines which apply to Internet use in your household. 

  • Discuss when and for how long it’s acceptable for your child to use the Internet.
  • Agree on how to treat personal information (name, address, telephone, e-mail).
  • Discuss how to behave towards others when gaming, chatting, e-mailing or messaging.
  • Agree on what type of sites and activities are OK or not OK in your family.
  • Follow the rules yourself! Or at least explain why the rules are different for adults.

3. Encourage your child to be careful when disclosing personal information

A simple rule for younger children should be that the child should not give out their name, phone number or photo without your approval.  Older children using social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, should be encouraged to be selective about what personal information and photos they post to online spaces.  Regardless of privacy settings, once material is online you can no longer control who sees it or how it’s used.

4. Talk about the risks associated with meeting online “friends” in person

Adults should understand that the internet can be a positive meeting place for children, where they can get to know other young people and make new friends.  However, for safety and to avoid unpleasant experiences, it is important that children do not meet strangers they have met online without being accompanied by an adult you trust.  In any case, the child should always have their parents’ approval first.  In addition, it’s also a good idea to have a fool-proof plan in place such as calling them shortly after the meeting begins so that they can bail out if they feel uncomfortable.

5. Teach your child about evaluating information and being critically aware of information found online. 

Most children use the internet to improve and develop their knowledge in relation to schoolwork and personal interests.  Children should be aware that not all information found online is correct, accurate or relevant.  Show your child how to check the information they find by comparing it to alternative sources on the same topic.  Show them trusted sites they can use to compare their information.

 

6. Don’t be too critical towards your child’s exploration of the Internet

Children may come across adult material by accident on the web.  Also, a child may intentionally search for such websites; remember that it is natural for children to be curious about off-limits material.  Try to use this as an opening to discuss the content with them, and perhaps make rules for this kind of activity.  We have to be careful but also realistic in our assessment of how your child uses the internet.

 

7. Let your children show you what they like to do online

To be able to guide your child with regard to Internet use, it’s important to understand how children use the Internet and know what they like to do online.  Let your child show you which websites they like visiting and what they do there.

 

8. Remember that the positive aspects of the Internet outweigh the negatives.

The Internet is an excellent educational and recreational resource for children, so encourage your child to make the most of it and explore the internet to its full potential.

As we know, the internet is now part of our culture and it is here to stay.  Since it is such a valuable resource for us as parents in many positive ways, it’s not something we should be fighting against, rather something that we need to embrace with our children in a healthy way.   If we help them to develop these good online habits at an early age, these practices will stay with them through their adult lives and will help them to form a positive relationship with the internet, making their virtual world a healthy and safe reality. 

As always, I’d love to hear which blogs resonate most with you!  Feel free to reach out and message me on Facebook & Instagram!

 

For more information, check out these resources:

Help Your Kids Be Prepared for Accidents!

At the park or playing ball – your kids can be prepared for the sun AND accidents with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind.  

Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.