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 (Download our free Parents Guide to Cyberbullying and Digital Abuse leaflet for help with tackling cyberbullying as a parent).
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”. Explore our Social Media and Social Network Guide for up to date information and safety advice for most social media platforms, social networks and current apps.
See what profile information is available online and bear 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. We have an extensive section specialising in Tech Advice for Parents containing expert information for safeguarding your child and young family members.
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 specialist sites such as noslang.com or chatslang.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. Ensuring your children understand the importance of good netiquette is very important in avoiding possible conflict online.
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 mobile phone works and what type of security features it has.