Today, children are already so connected that it can be a full-time job for parents to monitor their online activities. While many children seem comfortable using the internet, we sometimes forget that they still have a lot to learn and may not always be able to recognize the risks and pitfalls of being connected, especially when it comes to social media.
We have put together a few helpful tips to keep you and your children better protected on social media.
Inform and communicate
Find out about social media. Ask your children which websites they would like to have an account on. If you don’t already have your own account for the social media website in question, set up one. Familiarize yourself with the details of the website that your children are planning on using so you know exactly what they can and cannot do.
Talk to your children openly about how to avoid strangers and not reveal too much about themselves, and about internet safety in general. Educate them about some of the things mentioned in this article and about possible red flags.
Encourage your children to speak to you when they need advice on problematic content or situations.
Teach your child to be careful about what they post. Just because a post is then deleted doesn’t mean it has disappeared from the Internet. Something that doesn’t seem like a big deal at this point can hurt your child’s online reputation as they grow up and then go to college and eventually enter the job market. Think of the „googleability” aspect. Have you Googled yourself or your child before? If not, you should do it simply to determine what personal information about you can be found on the Internet. Repeat from time to time as new things may emerge over the years.
It is also important for your children to know that social networks may disclose more personal information than they are aware of. Many social media websites provide information such as real names, the child’s age, school name, and the city they live in.
Advise your child never to accept or add friend requests from people they don’t know in real life. There is a form of cyberstalking called „catfishing”. A user can set up a fake profile and pretend to be someone else (most likely another child) in order to come into contact with your child. Find out about catfishing and cyberstalking, then teach your child what warning signs to look out for. Make it clear to them that they should never meet in person with someone they only met online.
Avoid surveys, „free” giveaways, and sweepstakes. This is sometimes a phishing scam, which aims to trick children into giving out personal information about themselves or to allow hackers to inject malware into their computers. Find out about phishing scams, and if your child is dying to enter a sweepstakes, first make sure they are legitimate.
Personalizing social media status updates with a live location taken from a mobile device’s GPS functionality is extremely popular. While tagging posts or photos with a location can be fun for kids, it’s problematic for parents who don’t want the whole world to know where their child is. To avoid this, turn off location services in the settings on your child’s device. You can do this for specific apps and still allow map services and other really useful tools to access location data.
Another potential risk is the use of games and other third-party apps within social networks. By default, these apps can share or post information without you knowing about it. Reputable apps clearly state that nothing will ever be posted on your behalf. For lesser-known or well-known apps, consider whether your child should allow those apps to access social media accounts at all.
House rules for Internet use
Place the computer in a common area at home, such as a bathroom. B. in the living room or kitchen. Define specific areas in your home where tablets and mobile phones can be used. Then you can closely monitor which websites your child is visiting. It is less easy for children to be tempted to visit websites or engage in activities they are not allowed to do if you keep a close eye on them.
Allow your child to use the Internet for a limited amount of time each day (except for homework). Social media websites can be time-consuming and your child shouldn’t spend all of their free time on these websites.
If your child wants to use a social media website, they should give you access to their account credentials so that you can check their activities from time to time, e.g. E.g. suspicious friends, problematic messages or unfriendly posts.
If the child is an older teenager and having full access to their account would be too intrusive, request that they add you as a friend so that you can keep an eye on their activity from your own account.
Limit your children to age-appropriate websites. Most social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram require a minimum age of 13 years. Some of these websites also have additional security settings for minors. For example, Facebook automatically sets more stringent privacy settings than adults. Therefore, make sure that your child provides the correct date of birth when registering. Twitter offers an option to set a user’s account as private so that the user must approve all follower requests. In addition to these safety precautions, you should always check the privacy settings for your child’s profile.
An easy way to add an extra layer of protection is to register for Norton Security Premium. This shows you when your child registers for a social media account on their PC, as well as the name and age they enter in their profile. With such a robust security package, you also get an insight into the activities on your child’s Android mobile device. You can decide which apps it can use – and even disable access to Facebook or YouTube. This gives your child the opportunity to use the Internet safely for their own good. As a parent, you can efficiently supervise their Android device and determine when to intervene.
Children today cannot and should not be prevented from using the Internet. The best parent can do is to look into the risks and benefits of social media. By arming your children with solid knowledge and keeping a constant eye on their activities, you will help them experience the Internet as positively as possible.