We’ve all read about the dangers of social media for our children. The stories of cyber-bullying are heartbreaking. The speed at which a child’s reputation can be ruined is swift. With thousands of social platforms on the market and more popping up every day, keeping up with your child’s social media activity could be a full time job, but it doesn’t have to be.
Having open discussions with your kids about social media can help keep them safe – even when you’re not watching everything they post online. Below are 5 things every parent should discuss with their kids about social media
1. Personal Information: Be very clear about what information should never be posted online including: full name, address, phone number, school name and vacation plans. Good Rule of Thumb: Don’t give out any information about yourself until you’ve consulted a parent or teacher.
2. Permanent Footprint: What is posted on the Internet can never truly be deleted. Encourage your kids to be mindful of what they post online at all times. Good Rule of Thumb: If you wouldn’t want it posted on a billboard on a busy highway for your grandmother to see, then don’t post it online.
3. Responsible Friending: The Internet is an easy place for people to hide their identities and true intentions. Only “friend/follow” people you know in real life. Good Rule of Thumb: If you’ve never had a conversation with the individual in person, you do not need to be communicating with them online.
4. Cyber-bullying: Online teasing can escalate to cyber-bullying quickly and kids need to be vigilant in recognizing and reporting cases of cyber-bullying. Any online teasing of others should be prohibited and an environment of open communication about teasing kids see online should be established. Good Rule of Thumb: If you wouldn’t like what you see being posted about someone else being said about you, tell an adult immediately.
5. Privacy Guidelines: Default privacy settings vary tremendously by social media platform. Users should review the settings for each platform they use regularly and adjust accordingly. Good Rule of Thumb: It is always better to err on the side of caution and lock down accounts to be as private as possible.
Looking for more? The New York City Department of Education recently published Student Social Media Guidelines to teach children how to use social media responsibly in and out of the school environment. The guidelines are a great resource for students and parents alike and cover everything from the importance of aligning your online persona with your goals to the need to post responsibly in order to protect privacy and guard against online bullying.