Kids are growing up a lot faster today than they did ten, even just five years ago. Children at increasingly younger ages want to join social media networks, and post pictures and share their sporadic thoughts with their peers. Gaining an audience and the attention of people they don’t know also has appeal to people of all ages, but for children this can present a huge safety issue that parents should be aware of.
iPhones, tablets, and computers provide access to kids to take advantage of these opportunities to share their information. While this may seem harmless if they want to check in at their favorite store, or want to share a picture at an amusement park caution must be taken. Be aware that these things allow people they may, or may not know their whereabouts.
Take a look at the “friends” or “followers” of your child’s social accounts. Are these people they know? Spam accounts, adult accounts, and people with inappropriate intentions may be following your child’s information without even them knowing about it. Talk to them about who they approve and inform them of how not all people and accounts are harmless.
No one knows your child better than you. With unrestricted, or unsupervised access, they may be posting photos that don’t represent them well. Take time to discuss with your child what kind of pictures are, and are not, allowed to be posted. If they haven’t posted anything inappropriate, take an encouraging approach and let them know that you appreciate the responsibility they are showing.
Check the privacy settings of all accounts. When accounts are setup they are typically public and can be viewed by anyone until the settings are changed. Certain accounts require permission to view content, others allow even approved friends restricted access and viewing privileges. Set these accounts up with the amount of privacy you are comfortable with. Know the password to the accounts, and if needed keep it private from your child for a more restricted access.
Social media is not bad and can be used to share fun updates and photos with friends and family. Keep communication about the issues surrounding social media with your child. This can be a great opportunity to build trust and openness in the social world that we live in. If an inappropriate post is made, or a relationship is developed with some they don’t know, address these issues immediately and take appropriate safety measures to protect your family and child.
About the Author: Michelle is a blogger for Forward Home Security. She loves DIY projects, social media, and hanging out with her cat, Zoie.