Kids these days are incredibly tech-savvy; they may be able to Snapchat and TikTok at what seems like the speed of light. But as the concerned adults in their life, you can still have very valuable things to teach them using social media wisely and safely.
Here are a few of our favorite tips. Feel free to use them to be the expert in your kids’ eyes; we won’t tell!
1. Educate Yourself About Social Media
As a parent, guardian, grandparent or educator, it’s vital to familiarize yourself with the social media sites out there and understand that not all of them are appropriate for kids. The landscape is constantly changing, but a few of today’s better known social sites and apps for kids and teens include:
2. Age Requirement Rules Are No Joke
Check—and follow!—the minimum age for each social media site; it’s there for a reason. According to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, most platforms require users to be 13 or older to create an account without the parent’s permission.
3. Regularly Check Privacy Settings
Once your child is on social media, it’s essential to remain vigilant and regularly verify that their privacy setting is updated. Social media sites constantly add security settings to ensure maximum protection, but they may need to be updated manually by the user.
4. Keep Profiles Private
Most social media sites allow you to make your child’s account private, so only people who are friends with your child can see their information and shared content.
5. Just Say No to Personal Details
Social media has become such an accepted part of daily life that it’s not unusual for people to share information that shouldn’t be widely or publicly accessible. Your child must understand the risks and dangers of sharing personal information such as phone numbers, addresses and check-ins.
6. Think Carefully About Posting Pictures or Videos
Most of us use social media sites to post pictures and videos with the best intentions. However, it’s easy to take things the wrong way or misunderstand them out of context. And when posted online for everyone to see, photos and videos can have long-lasting consequences. Talk with your child and help them understand why they should post content that only presents themselves and others in a positive light.
7. Think Passphrase, Not Password
A strong password is the first line of defense against hackers and intruders—and a passphrase is even better. Make sure your child’s password contains capital letters, numbers and special characters. Also, explain how passwords protect them and why they should never be shared with anyone. But also make it a non-negotiable of social media and internet-ready device use that you know your child’s passwords at all times.
8. Only Accept Friend Requests from People We Actually Know
Even if this seems self-explanatory, your child needs to be reminded that plenty of people use social media to cause harm and that they should only accept friend requests from people they know, such as friends and family. You can also discuss some ways to spot when a friend’s account has been hacked, or the request is from a fake account.