How to Protect Your Kids on Social Media

Three Methods:Talking To Your Child About Social Media SafetyProtecting Your Child On Social MediaProtecting Your Child’s Privacy On Your Social Media Account

Social media surrounds us. Companies and television networks target teens to use social media by liking, following, or tweeting about products and shows. Social media is also a great place to keep up with family and friends. While there is nothing wrong with these things, social media can also be a dangerous place for young people. If you have a child who uses social media, learn how to protect her online safety.

Method 1
Talking To Your Child About Social Media Safety

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    Have a conversation about social media safety. Communicating with your child is important. You want your child to feel comfortable talking to you about social media and her experiences on it, along with feeling like she can come to you if she has a problem. Open the lines of communication so you child will feel comfortable coming to you about any problems.[1]
    • Explain to your child about being safe on social media. Tell her not to give out personal details, like phone numbers or addresses. Help her understand the importance of not posting inappropriate pictures or updates. Make sure to have a discussion about the dangers of cyber predators and why she should never meet strangers she meets online.
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    Set rules for your child. Talk to your child about what rules you have concerning social media. These rules can include anything you are concerned about.[2] Examples include:
    • Not allowing your child to post about where they are.
    • Not allowing your child to post any personal details.
    • Limiting the amount or kinds of photos your child posts.
    • Setting an amount of time your child can spend on social media.
    • Restricting which social media sites your child can become a member of.
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    Discuss the repercussions of social media. You don’t just need to worry about predators finding your child. You need to discuss with your child how to keep herself safe from herself. Posting embarrassing, questionable, or inappropriate pictures can cause potential colleges and employers to reject her. Posting status updates that are rude, offensive, or questionable can also come back to haunt her later.[3]
    • Make sure to discuss with your child that once she puts something on social media, it is out in the world and difficult to remove or take back.

Method 2
Protecting Your Child On Social Media

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    Wait until your child is old enough to get a social media account. All social media sites have minimum age requirements to be able to sign up for an account. These ages are put into place to protect the privacy of children and young people. Make sure not to allow your child to have a social media account when she is younger than the required age. When she reaches the minimum age, decide if you feel she is old enough.[4]
    • For Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, and Pinterest, a person must be 13 to get an account. Although YouTube requires a person to be 18, someone who is 13 can sign up with parental permission.
    • Vine and Tinder require a person to be 17 to hold an account.
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    Friend or follow your child. When your child has a social media account, friend or follow that account. Talk to her about which sites she is using, and if you don’t understand how the site works, have your child explain it to you. This can help you monitor what your child is doing online and who she is talking to.[5]
    • Your child might have social media sites you don’t know about. Browse through downloaded apps on her phone or watch which apps she’s using to see what social media sites she is a member of.
    • Be aware some social media sites have options that allow members to choose who sees the posts. You child might be following or friended with you, but they could filter the post so you can’t see it.
    • You also might be able to see what her interests are or if something is wrong with you child by reading her posts.
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    Allow your child the right amount of privacy. As your child grows up, you want to give her privacy and trust her. This means not going behind her and checking on everything she does. However, you should keep an eye on what your child does online.[6]
    • When younger teens get social media sites, make sure to get passwords for the sites. This can help you watch over their online activities. For older teens, you may allow them more privacy by letting them have their own private passwords.
    • Check internet history. This will show you what sites your teen has been visiting. You can also check your child’s phone. However, this may cause a problem with your child if she believes you are invading her privacy and not trusting her. Use your judgment for how often and when you check these things. You may hold checking internet and phone histories for when your child gives you a reason to not trust her or believe her privacy is at risk.
    • You can also install apps such as Net Nanny or WebWatcher. Your child will never know these apps are on the computer, and they will alert you to things that may jeopardize the safety of your child.[7]
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    Have a shared computer. Another way to keep your child safe on social media is to have a shared computer. This means the child doesn’t have her own laptop in her room where she can hide what she does from you. Instead, she uses the computer in a central location in the house where you can monitor what she does.[8]
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    Make sure global location settings are off. To protect your child, turn off the location settings. Location settings allow social media sites to add the location of the person when she posts a photo or an update. By turning this off, it helps people from not knowing exactly where you child is or places she frequents often.[9]
    • Location settings may post the city that the person is in, the name of restaurant or store, or even the address.
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    Learn text language. Social media, text, and sexting have their own language. Knowing some of the language, or know where to look up acronyms, may help you really know what your child is talking about. Sexting particularly has its own language, and parents should be aware of this so they can address the situation if it arises.[10]

Method 3
Protecting Your Child’s Privacy On Your Social Media Account

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    Use privacy settings. If you have a social media account, you probably want to share photos of your children. You do this because you love them and are proud of them. But sharing photos of your children might be putting them at risk. When you share photos of your kids, use the privacy settings for the photos so you can control who sees your photos.[11]
    • Use settings to allow only the people you follow to see your photos. You can also set custom privacy settings, where you choose who you want to see the photos.
    • You may also consider making your entire social media account private so you will know who sees your information.
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    Avoid using GPS tagging. Your child is not the only one who needs to turn off location settings. You should also turn off location settings when you post pictures of your child. By keeping the location of your child off of social media, you protect her from potential predators.[12]
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    Refrain from friending strangers. Social media is used to meet new friends, and some people even use it to play games with strangers. If you post pictures of your child or talk about her, refrain from friending people you don’t know. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. You never know if someone is a predator or not.[13]
    • Talk to your child about accepting friend requests from strangers. Encourage her to never friend strangers.
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    Take caution with the information you share. People often overshare on social media. This includes details about their children. You should never give away personal details, such as your child’s full name, the school she attends, her birthday, or other details. These things may seem benign, but put your child at risk.[14]
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    Post smaller pictures. If you want to post pictures, make sure to post pictures at a lower resolution. This can help reduce the risk of someone printing it out or enlarging it.[15]
    • If you are really concerned about people stealing photos of your child, place a watermark on your photos.
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    Refrain from posting pictures of other children. When your child has a party or a sleepover, make sure to never post pictures of other people’s children. Only post photos of your own child. If you want to post photos from a party with someone’s child in it, make sure to discuss that with that parent first.[16]

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Categories: Parenting and Technology