The very nature of social media is just that, social. People are encouraged to get to know each other by sharing information, photos and other details of their personal life. Children and parents should learn how personal information can be used by others, and so ensure they always share it responsibly.
Most social networking sites have advice and guidance on safeguarding privacy. You and your child should read and understand them before they dive in and start finding “friends”.
If your child wants to join Facebook then you should go to www.facebook.com/safety before letting them sign up. Learn together.
Take the time to learn about internet safety together. You’ll boost your child’s online skills as well as your ability to help tackle any problems – together – should they arise.
See what profile information is available online and bare in mind that if you can find it, anyone can. Talk to your child about any concerns. Be aware of the websites your child visits and what email and social networking sites they use.
Google search their security, data protection and online safety procedures and review related blogs and forums for information on abuse complaints and data privacy.
How many of us know what POS means? (Parents Over Shoulder.) Or how about LMIRL? (Let’s Meet In Real Life.) These are just some of the slang abbreviations that all parents should know. Visit www.noslang.com for a slang translator and comprehensive dictionary.
If your child has something private to share with a close friend it may be better to talk face-to-face or over the phone. Posting or emailing very personal information can be a risk as the message may be misinterpreted or could fall into the wrong hands and be used against them in the future.
Encourage your child to come to you immediately should problems arise. Make sure you let your child know that you will not take away any computer or phone privileges if they confide in you. ‘Friend’ them.
Arrange with your child for you or another trusted adult to become their “Friend” on the social media sites they use. Keep up with technology. Ask your child to show you how their phone works and what type of security features it has.