5 things your child needs to know about social media before they create their first account

Schoolchildren embracing happy. Multi cultural racial classroom

These days having multiple social media accounts is a must for some kids. No wonder: technology made communicating with peers, posting photos or updating others about your life extremely easy.

Family Online Safety Institute discovered that most parents do not share this enthusiasm. FOSI found out the majority of parents think the harms outweigh the benefits or are equally balanced when it comes to their children using social media accounts. According to their survey only 26% of parents stated the benefits were worth the risks.

Children, on the other hand, often do not recognize the dangers coming from online world. This is why it’s parent’s job to equip their kids with proper knowledge before they sign up.

Here are the things worth telling your child, regardless of the fact if they already have such accounts or are planning to create them.

1. Good password is a first step to having a secure account.

No kid I know wants to end up having their account hacked or used by someone else. Having a strong password can hugely decrease these risks.

For younger kids help them pick the password they may remember, for older ones advise them to think of a password that will be easy to remember, yet difficult to be guessed by the others. Their name, nickname or the name of the pet: that’s definitely a bad choice. A strong password usually combines words with capital letters and numbers, first letters of the sentence that is easy to remember etc. 

Get to know more about secure passwords with this post that outlines 5 steps to create a strong password:

2. Something once shared, may stay on the Internet forever.

Kids ought to be really careful when posting something online. Delete and forget? Sometimes it’s not that easy to get rid of things once they shared.

Personal data like full name, address, school name or phone number: these are the things that they should avoid including on their profiles. Kids need to be especially careful about the photos they post and be aware of the fact that even once they delete them, they can still go viral and circulate over the Internet without their consent.

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3. Privacy settings might come handy

Most of the popular social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc.) allow your child to manage pricacy settings. They can use these options to choose what kind of information their are willing to share, with whom etc. If you are not sure yourself how these accounts exactly work, a wise step would be to read about them first.

For Facebook, check out this great guide which will teach you all about Facebook privacy settings and managing information. Additionally, you will also get to read great tips how to untag yourself from a photo, limit people who can contact you or view your photos etc.

Does your child have an Instagram account? Here is an extremely easy and informative parent’s guide to privacy and settings. It will explain how to sign up, delete photos, monitor your child’s account and more.

When it comes to Twitter, this is a must-read article: Twitter and your child, a parent’s guide to privacy and safety.

There are many great resources concerning Snapchat as well like a Parent’s Guide to Snapchat or 10 things parents and kids should know about the SnapChat app.

4. Not everyone on the Internet is who they claim they are.

The friendly girl/boy your kid is talking to may be in fact an adult disguised as a child. The eternal rule they should follow: not everything they see/read on social media accounts is actually true. Advise your child not to reply to strangers and people that seem suspicious. If a person contacts them claiming to be their friend or relative, it’s better to double-check that and give them a call to confirm.

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5. Cyberbullying is a very common problem these days and should not be neglected.

The statistics are at least disturbing: Over half of all teens who use social media have witnessed bullying there. Many parents also forget that their kids can be bullies themselves.

That’s why not only you should tell them what to do when they are bullied, but teach them not to be a bully themselves. It includes explaining they are responsible for anything they say, even in the online world and things written on social media can be as harmful as things said in the real life.

Other important rules to prevent cyberbullying is avoiding positing photos of someone without their permission or other information related to them.

 

Social media can be a powerful tool, which has a potential of bringing kids several benefits. It’s worth remembering that, like most things on the Internet, social media also poses threats. Recognizing them will allow your child to truly use the opportunities it creates.

 

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Magdalena | Appetite For Education

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