Social networking sites are the new playground for this generation.
For most young people, it’s hard to imagine a life without social networking sites. They’re expressing thoughts and feelings online and keeping in touch with friends and family nar and far. Or showcasing work and sharing ideas with a global audience that once seemed impossible to achieve. And it’s a huge part of their social lives.
Many parents tell us they only join social networking sites to keep up with what their kids are up to – until they discover it’s a great way to stay in touch with friends and family overseas and become prolific users themselves!
But there are some potential risks and challenges that parents should be aware of – such as cyber bullying, excessive use of technology, identity theft, online grooming, and managing reputation. And don’t forget, your children need to be at least 13 to have a social media account.
Of course, just when you’ve figured out Facebook, you’ll find new social networking sites are popping up all the time. How many of these sites are your kids using?
- Yik Yak
Be aware that social networking doesn’t just happen on the obvious sites. Are your kids sharing comments, content and ideas on community sites like Scratch and TinkerCad, or playground sites like Animal Jam?
“”“I made an agreement with my son that we would both join Facebook together when he reached the site’s required age of 13. It was challenging for him not to be on Facebook especially when many of his friends were but as a mother I believed that we should observe the rules set by the social media experts. What was great was that we learnt to use Facebook together and he quickly became the expert in the house helping me upload photos or post articles, which he loves.” – Bianca
Dave from The Parenting Place has some great tips on conversations to have with your teen when they’re ready to have a social media account.
Whichever social sites you’re into, the same basic safety rules remain the same. There’s one overarching rule, and three clear guidelines.
The golden rule of social media – protect your identity.
- Advise your child or children to avoid using their real name as their username in social media, at least until they’re old enough to manage their own identity safely.
- Make sure you and they both know not to share locations when sharing pictures. Many smartphone Apps will try to do this automatically.
- Teach them not to accept followers they don’t know. Social networking (for younger children, especially) should be about connecting with friends – not amassing followers.
- Check and re-check that everyone knows how to find and use the privacy controls provided with each site or App.
3 great guidelines for enjoying Social Media:
- Kindness: Teach kids to be kind online. Remind them to think about how the other person might feel. It’s also good to discuss what they should do if they come across others being cruel or doing anything that doesn’t feel right. Cyber bullying ends when bystanders become upstanders.
- Sharing: Kids should also be aware that photos they send of themselves can be forwarded and saved. Remind them that if they are sharing photos of other people, they should think about how that might make the other person feel and should ask permission first. It’s also crucial to make clear to children what type of information should not be shared on social media, including their address, school, phone number or email address. Help them share and enjoy – download this poster designed to step them through a thought process to follow before sharing images online.
- Content: For kids who are media savvy and have their own blog or even YouTube channel, remember that online seldom means private. They should automatically assume that anyone they write about will one day read their words or watch their videos – so no mean comments about teachers, parents, friends or schoolmates. Remind them that everything they put online is there forever.
How to control your content on social networking sites.
No matter which social networking sites you use, you’re always creating a ‘digital footprint’. Anything you write, post, or upload will be online forever. That’s a really long time!
- On Facebook: Limit posts to be seen by ‘friends’ and not ‘public’. Allow messages from ‘friends only’. And make sure ‘approve tags’ is enabled (go to Facebook Settings – Timeline & Tagging). ) – this allows you or your child to see any message against which they’ve been “tagged”, and approve or decline it before that tag is seen by anyone else.
- On Twitter: Click ‘Protect My Tweets’ so only approved users can see them.
- On YouTube: Sign in to turn on safety mode and keep it locked on. Make your uploaded videos private by selecting ‘Edit Video’, then adjust the ‘Broadcast and Sharing Options’. If your teen has an account, you can make it ‘Unlisted’ so their account will not show up in search results. Only people who have the address for their account page can find his or her videos.
- On Instagram: In the ‘Edit Your Profile’ section, scroll down and change the ‘Posts Are Private’ feature to ‘ON‘ to make it less likely that your photos will be reposted elsewhere.
- On Snapchat: Snapchat has two privacy settings, one for who can send you Snaps and another for who can see your Stories.
- For Who Can Send Me Snaps: You have two privacy options: “Everyone” and “My Friends.”
- For Who Can View My Story: You have three privacy options: “Everyone,” “My Friends,” and “Custom.”
Social networks tend to change their rules around privacy quite frequently, so it’s important to check their websites for the most up-to-date instructions.
Get savvy about activating privacy settings on social media channels with this handy How To: guide.
How to control being tagged in photos on social networking sites.
Maybe it’s a very unflattering camera angle. Or perhaps it captures something embarrassing or silly that a future employer really shouldn’t see. If your son or daughter doesn’t like a photo of themselves that a friend has tagged online, here’s what they can do:
- Remove the tag – the post will still be there but it will no longer link to their profile or timeline.
- Ask the person to remove the photo from their profile.
- Send the owner of the photo a message asking them to remove it.
- Report the photo to the website concerned – if it contravenes their terms of service, it will be removed.
- Block or unfriend the owner of the photo – all tags from this person will be removed and your child will no longer be able to see or interact with them on the site.