This is a guest post.
Twenty years ago, moms were worried about their kids safely crossing the street and whether or not they ate too much sugar. Nowadays, moms (and dads) have to be vigilant about the role of technology in their children’s lives, particularly when it comes to social media.
If you’re a mom, know someone who is, or are even looking for a few helpful tips for your own life, here’s a shortlist of rules to enforce if you want to be sure your kids are using social media safely.
6 Ways to Keep Kids Safe on Social Media
1. Parents Must Have All Passwords
It may seem like an invasion of privacy but it’s crucial your children know you’re actively checking out all their online communication. Make sure they give you the passwords to all their social networking profiles and that you check them often! They’re only useful if you’re monitoring.
2. No Photos That Are Inappropriate
Of course, what’s “inappropriate” will vary from family to family but in general it’s a good idea to keep photos of your kids in bathing suits, in front of your home, and sleeping off the web. A good rule of thumb is: if you wouldn’t want mom to see it, don’t put it online! And of course, you should be checking your kids’ online photos often to make sure one slipped through the cracks.
3. Don’t Give Out Identifying Information
It’s important that you talk with your children before they’re allowed online about what’s best kept to themselves. Obviously things like your phone number, your home address, and your kids full legal name should never be shared over social media but it’s also smart to nix the use of birthdates, sports team numbers, and your kids’ school name as they could be used to track them down in real life.
4. Obey the Time Limits
Social media can be a great addition to a child’s social development but it’s smart to limit the number of sites they use. Facebook and Twitter are great, as are Instagram and Pinterest, but more than two social sites is simply too much. Your kids don’t need to spend more than an hour per day using social to connect with their friends…any more than that and they could be missing out on In Real Life opportunities!
5. No Chat Rooms!
Chat rooms are notoriously hard to monitor and they’re the perfect hiding spot for child predators. If your kids are going to end up talking to someone you’d rather them not, it will likely be in a chat room. Have them promise they’ll never visit them and check up on them often.
6. Do Not Talk to Strangers
The main difference in social for kids and social for adults is that kids have no need to talk to strangers online. They lack the ability to properly assess someone’s character based on subtle cues and they should have plenty of personal friends already online to keep them busy! Social for children should be a means of catching up, not a means for meeting new people.
If your child has special needs they’ll likely need special attention when it comes to the web. If you feel more comfortable allowing your child to use social media only when you’re present, you’re well within your right as a parent to set that standard. First and foremost, keeping your child safe online should be your priority.
How do you keep your children safe from social media predators?
Guest Author Ryan Currie is a product manager at BizShark.com, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development. In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects.