Social Media Safety: How To Stay Safe Online

Parenting no longer includes just preparing our children for the real world. You now have to prepare them for the online world. More specifically, you now have to prepare your children for a world dominated by social media. It has become ingrained in youth culture. So how should you teach your teens social media safety?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), close to 75 percent of teenagers today own a smart phone. Nearly 25 percent of teenagers consider themselves “constantly connected” to the internet. The most common way social media is accessed is on a mobile device, where teens and young adults of are spending nearly 200 minutes of their day.

How can you keep your children safe on social media?

Get familiar with it.

If you want to help your children stay safe on social media, you can start by familiarizing yourself with whatever platforms your children are using or want to use. The most popular platforms for teens and young adults are Snapchat, Facebook and, Instagram.

Make an account for yourself and learn how to use the social media platform.

Adjust privacy settings.

While you’re familiarizing yourself with the social media sites your child uses, find out how you can adjust your privacy settings. Usually, the default settings will not provide the privacy you want for your child.
Privacy Setting Help Pages

Once you know how to change the privacy settings, help your child set up their accounts or adjust the settings of already existing accounts.

Stay Connected.

Stay connected to your kids’ social media accounts. Whether that means “friending” them on Facebook or following them on Instagram. A great way to know what’s going on, on your kids’ social media accounts is to follow along with everyone else.

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Set some ground rules.

A great way to help your child stay safe on social media is to have an open conversation with them about social media use. You can let them know your expectations and any rules you expect them to follow. The Family Online Safety Institute encourages letting your kids know these expectations upfront and even using a safety contract.

Make sure that you’re clear what you expect of your child. You might need to set some hard and fast rules such as no devices at the dinner table or no video games before homework. Remember to model the behavior yourself, too.

Talk about safety with social media.

Talk to your kids specifically about how to be safe while using social media. Discuss common issues like over sharing personal information and the consequences associated with these issues. Have open discussions about what your child should and shouldn’t do in theoretical situations.

Who is it okay for them to add on Facebook? What kind of pictures should not be shared on social media? What information should they fill out on their social profiles?

Talk to your child about cyber bullying. Consider both your child as the victim and the perpetrator. Have an open discussion about the long lasting effects of cyber bullying and how to handle being targeted by a bully online.

Think before you post.

Because of the implied anonymity of the internet, people are often more susceptible to posting things they might not say if the same situation was translated to real life. Our teens and tweens are no exception to this. This not only contributes to the rise in cyber bullying, but it also means they sometimes post other potentially harmful information without thinking about it.

Remind your kids that they should always think twice before posting anything online. While most social media platforms offer a way to delete content after it is posted, a good rule of thumb is that once it’s been posted on the internet, it’s there forever. People can share your teen’s posts and photos. Hopefully, you’ve already adjusted your child’s privacy settings so even shared content can only be viewed by their friends.

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However, it’s not unheard of for people to save photos or take screenshots what someone else posts. If this happens, you and your teen no longer have any control over who is seeing this content. A hard and fast rule to teach your teen is to never post anything online you don’t want the whole world to see and know.

Are there any benefits to social media?

Social media might seems scary or overwhelming, especially if you’re not a savvy social media user yourself. However, it’s not all bad. When social media is used responsibly it can benefit our adolescent children.

4 Social Media Benefits for Teens

  • Stay up to date with local, national, and world news and events.
  • Stay connected with their family who doesn’t live nearby.
  • Allows them to freely express themselves and boosts their self esteem.
  • Helps them strengthen existing friendships and stay connect with their friends.

Social media is a huge part of culture today. It’s constantly being adapted and used in new ways. Being proactive can help you keep your teens and tweens safe while still allowing them to be a part of the social media revolution. You should keep an open line of communication with them about their social media use and always be there to help guide them if they’re unsure.

How do you handle social media use for the teens in your home?