Top-tips on how to keep your kids safe on social
Let’s be honest – how many times have you caught yourself saying “it’s not like it was when I was their age?!” We’ve certainly done it! Social networking sites are – and have been for a long time now – a huge hit with children of all ages, allowing them to stay in touch with friends over chat, meet new people with similar interests, and share photos and videos.
We’ve found some great tips from internetmatters.org to help guide you through the murky waters of social media and to understand that, when used appropriately, social networks can be a great place for our children to demonstrate their creativity.
So here are some useful tips to ensure your children’s experience is both safe and fun…
12 to 15 year olds may be in contact with people they don’t know on their social networking site profile
Risks of social networking for children
The more you know about the kind of social networking sites your child belongs to and what information they like to share, the more likely you’ll be able to keep them safe:
- The lower age limit for most social networking sites is 13
- The most popular social networks include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr, and Snapchat. Sites aimed at younger children, like Club Penguin Island and Moshi Monsters, also have a social networking element
- Many sites include an instant message function which allows private conversations between site members
- You can set privacy settings on most social networking sites so that only close friends can search for your child, tag them in a photograph or share what they’ve posted
- Most social networking sites have an app version available, meaning your child will have access to the social network from their smartphone or tablet. Some app versions of social networks use the location of the phone
- Facebook has a setting that allows your child to approve or dismiss tags that people add to their posts
- Information shared between friends can be easily copied and may spread widely
- It isn’t easy to take back information that has been posted – and can be impossible if it’s already been shared
- Not everyone your child meets online will be who they say they are. Chatrooms and forums can connect people who are complete strangers and can be unmoderated
- Chatrooms and forums are one of the places online groomers go to connect with children. They can also be places where people use a lot of sexual language and engage in online flirting. This is sometimes done through video chat programs such as Skype
“Like, Follow, Love, Retweet, Share!”
How can I ensure my child is safe on social networks?
Here are some tips:
- Educate yourself on what the various social networks and apps do (see internetmatters.org’s social networking section on apps for descriptions of the popular apps)
- Agree with your child when they can join a social networking site and create their profile with them
- Help them set privacy settings at the strongest level. Sites can change privacy settings so make sure you stay up to date with them. Links to the privacy pages of all the major social networking sites are in our resources section below, plus you can set these on sites for young children such as Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin Island
- Report people and inappropriate conversations to the site administrator via the ‘help’ or ‘report’ tab (if available) and always keep a copy of the conversation as evidence
- Teach your child how to block or ignore people on social networking sites and online games, and support them in knowing what they can do if someone makes them feel uncomfortable e.g. create a sentence with your child that they can use if they want to exit an uncomfortable conversation online
- Set boundaries about which sites they can use and for how long. Try to do this when they first start using social networking sites, so they get used to it from a young age
- Teach your child never to share any personal details – this includes their password, real name, address and their school
- Use the site yourself – you or another trusted adult can become your child’s friend on Facebook or follower on Twitter
- Explain that friends should be people they know – people they meet online may not be who they say they are. Talk to them about the risks involved with chatting to people they don’t know and sharing personal information with them
- Stress that meeting up with people they know online can be dangerous and that they should only do so with your permission and if you are present. Report directly to CEOP if someone is trying to meet up with your child or if you think your child is in immediate danger
- Set rules about what they should and shouldn’t post
- Talk to your child about the fact that what they post can’t always be taken back, and even if it can, it may already have been shared. This applies to webcams too – teach them to only use webcams with people they know, and show them how to disable it.
Internetmatters.org is a British based not-for-profit organisation that has a simple purpose – to help keep children safe in the digital world. They’re backed by the UK’s most prominent internet industry players, BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Google, BBC and Virgin Media, and are supported by leading child online safety experts, offering advice and information on tackling e-safety issues.
For more information visit www.internetmatters.org