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 lives. Children and parents should learn how personal information can be used by others, and so ensure they always share it responsibly.
Most social media platforms have a designated section allowing users to manage their privacy settings. You and your child should read and understand them before they dive in and start finding ‘friends’. Explore our social media platform guide for up to date information and safety advice for most social media platforms and popular 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 media platforms they use. We have an extensive section specializing in tech advice for parents containing expert information for safeguarding your child and young family members.
Google regularly search their security, data protection and online safety procedures and review 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 websites for a ‘slang’ translator or ask your child to teach you some of the commonly used words – make it fun!
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 internet or device related privileges if they confide in you. Something which started out as a common online bullying situation can lead to disaster if your child feels that they can’t share their problem with you. Open communication is key when dealing with cyberbullying and online abuse.
Depending on their age, you could suggest to your child for you or another trusted adult to become their ‘friend’ on social media platforms they use. Make sure you try to keep up with technology – ask your child to show you how their mobile phone works and what type of security features it has.