Social Media Safety

With the Internet so integrated into our culture and daily life, we have to take measures to keep our kids safe. It is important to have a talk with your children about social media safety, as well as the typical stranger danger talk and to say “no” to drugs.

The above YouTube video went viral. You may think the parents went too extreme to teach their kids a lesson, but sometimes you just have to test it out to see what your child does. Of course you always think that your child will do the right thing when a situation arises since you’ve specifically coached them on what to do. But kids are kids, they learn from experience rather than being lectured.

If you feel your kids are old enough to view the video, I’d highly encourage you to watch and talk to your kids about the video and teach them social media safety. My husband and I showed this video to my 13 and 8-year-old daughters and had a discussion with them. My older daughter has a Google+ account (which I deleted today) because it was tied to her email and my 8-year-old does not have any social media accounts. Overall my kids don’t use social media, but we wanted to show them the dangers of chatting with people online who they don’t know. I rather have my kids talk to their friends in person or over the phone rather than text or chat online in a community of strangers.

TECHNOLOGY RULES IN OUR HOME:

Because my husband’s background is in engineering and mine is in digital marketing, our technology rules in the household can be stricter than most:

  • My husband setup two routers (one for the kids’ usage and one for the adults)
    • Kids’ wifi turns off at 8pm every day.
    • Adults’ wifi turns off at 1am during the weekdays and during the weekends it turns off at 2am. That was setup for me since I easily stay online a long time. If I’m online and my device looses connection it reminds me to get ready to go to bed.
  • We monitor the urls (the web address of a page) our kids’ visit online and the urls that we do not want them to visit we block. You can sign up for free monitoring internet services like OpenDNS.com which will track the websites that are being visited. You can also selectively block certain websites (gaming sites) or groups of websites (gambling and porn).
  • We monitor their email accounts. We setup their email accounts once their names were picked. My older daughter has access to her email account which I monitor on a daily basis.
  • My older daughter has a basic phone which is used for emergency calls and texts only.
  • All electronic devices (computers, tablets, and phones) have a password on it. For my kids to use the internet, we have to enter the password in order for them to access the devices. It can sometimes be a hassle but we prefer knowing when the kids go online and how long they are using their devices.
  • We also gather all electronic devices (tablets, gaming devices, phones, etc) before they go to sleep to make sure they are not distracted from what they are supposed to do—sleep. Kids don’t have enough willpower to keep those devices turned off. I don’t have enough will power either, but I don’t impose that rule on myself. 🙂 We keep all the devices in our bedroom and charge it there.
  • We also let our kids know that having internet access is a privilege and needs to be used responsibly.

Of course these rules will change as they get older, but for now it works.

Several years ago, I also sent an email to my older niece and nephew and made them aware of social media safety. I told them to be careful when posing for photos because people nowadays immediately share your photos online even if you don’t want them to. So if you don’t want a picture taken, just avoid those people when they are taking pictures and to make sure that they avoid any inappropriate situations as well.

Once your friends post a picture of you on a social media account that is for public consumption. That forgotten photo. That one inappropriate picture they took in college with their friends may surface and prevent them from getting an interview when they are old enough to look for jobs in the corporate world.

It’s tough being a kid nowadays, everything is recorded (texts, emails, videos, etc.) and shared immediately online. Even if you think stuff has been deleted, it is typically stored on a backup server in the cloud.

SOCIAL MEDIA SAFETY TIPS:

Here are general tips (from StaySafeOnline.org) to safely enjoy social media:

  • Use the privacy and security settings on social networks. Don’t have tagged photos in Facebook appear on your wall without approving it first
  • Once posted, always posted. Protect your online reputation on social media. Think twice before posting a picture you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see.
  • Keep your personal information personal. Be cautious on how much information you provide on social media sites. Because of my job, I was rarely active online but due to blogging I do share more about myself than I used to so my followers can learn more about me and feel more connected.
  • Know and manage your friends. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends and a public profile for your fan pages. As a blogger, I use my personal profile since it’s too much work to manage.
  • Be honest if you are uncomfortable. If you see a post that makes you uncomfortable let your friend know. Your friend won’t know unless you tell them.
  • Know what action to take if someone is harassing or threatening you. You can remove them from your friend list, block them, and report them to the administrator of the social media site.

Try to implement all or some of the social media safety rules and tips to help keep your family safe.

If you have a teen and are struggling to find the right balance of how much screen time to give your teen check out the Screenagers Movie post. In this post, I also mentioned two “new” technology rules that have been implemented in the home.

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