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Category: Social Media Safety

A Teens Guide to Social Media Safety

social media safety teens

Parents can worry about a lot. Like everything else in this world, social media safety is something that the adults in your life will be wanting to discuss with you.  After all, they get nervous about their teen on social media. But it may not be easy for you to understand why Facebook or Twitter is such a big deal.

(This article is for teens. Parents, read what you can do here).

There are many different reasons why social media can be a dangerous playground. While the horror stories all focus on kids being lured or abducted, there are far more threats that are less severe. No matter your age or sex, it is important to follow some important rules for social media safety.

Before you roll your eyes, please know these guidelines exist to protect you! It’s not about telling you what you can and can’t do… it’s about offering guidelines to protect you from being ripped off, bullied, disrespected, scammed, or worse while you’re just trying to have a good time online.

Check Your Privacy Settings

The best place to start to ensure social media safety is to check  the privacy settings of any social media network you are using.  In most cases, the default privacy settings will give your posts the most public exposure which can be very dangerous.

Important Privacy Setting Resource Links:
Facebook Privacy Settings / Twitter Privacy Settings / Control Visibility on Instagram

Why It’s Important

If you’ve never checked or updated your privacy settings, then people you don’t even know can see your posts. Even if you think you are being careful about what you post, it’s common for teens to post sensitive information without even realizing it. It could be something as simple as an identifying background in one of your pictures… but online predators find easy prey in public profiles.

In a nutshell, keep your social profile strictly private… the best settings are where only friends can see what you post because you never really know who your friends are friends with online, so the “Friends of Friends” setting can leave you exposed and vulnerable.

Be Cautious of Friend Requests

Sure, it’s great to connect with new people through social people… but isn’t there something suspicious when a complete stranger sends you a friend request?

Play it safe and only accept friend requests from friends in the real world.

Apart from the obvious (more severe) threats… friend requests from strangers can often turn out to be spam bots (meaning you’ll be spamming your friends). Fake profiles are also created for cyber bullying. So when a new friend request comes in, and you think you know the person, be sure to check their profile first and see if anything looks fishy.

Think Before You Post!

Your social media safety is directly related to the personal information you allow others to see.  Limit the contact information in your profile and posts. Never give away your phone number or address. Keep private information private. If you want to share this information with a friend, do it directly by phone or text.

Why It’s Important for Social Media Safety

Teenagers tend to have a reckless, impulsive approach to social media. (No offense.)

That’s why it’s important to think first before you post what you are thinking or feeling. Even though you can delete something (a post, picture, comment, etc.) you can never permanently erase something that has been published on the internet.

Social Media can effect teen girls especially because they are more apt to express their feelings, while opening the door to receive feedback about themselves. Unfortunately, these interactions are not always positive.  Teen boys tend to use social media to communicate on lighter subjects, such as jokes and entertainment.  In either case, it’s important to reserve very private and personal emotions to friends in person.

More Tips for Online Safety:

  • Avoid using location services like Foursquare and disable location services on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. when posting photos. It’s cool, sure… but it’s not necessary and the risk is greater than the reward.
  • Avoid posting that you are going on vacation, or posting pictures while on vacation… until you are back home. Be also aware of the ramifications of using your cell phone at school and discuss responsible behavior within school guidelines.
  • If you do meet somebody new online, never agree to meet them off line. If somebody you met online sends or requests provocative pictures, tell an adult. You have to approach online friends (who you don’t know in the real world) as a potential predator… because even if it feels like you know them; you really don’t know who they are.

Parents can worry about a lot. Like everything else in this world, social media safety is something that the adults in your life will be wanting to discuss with you.  After all, they get nervous about their teen on social media. But it may not be easy for you to understand why Facebook or Twitter is such a big deal.

(This article is for teens. Parents, read what you can do here).

There are many different reasons why social media can be a dangerous playground. While the horror stories all focus on kids being lured or abducted, there are far more threats that are less severe. No matter your age or sex, it is important to follow some important rules for social media safety.

Before you roll your eyes, please know these guidelines exist to protect you! It’s not about telling you what you can and can’t do… it’s about offering guidelines to protect you from being ripped off, bullied, disrespected, scammed, or worse while you’re just trying to have a good time online.

Check Your Privacy Settings

The best place to start to ensure social media safety is to check  the privacy settings of any social media network you are using.  In most cases, the default privacy settings will give your posts the most public exposure which can be very dangerous.

Important Privacy Setting Resource Links:
Facebook Privacy Settings / Twitter Privacy Settings / Control Visibility on Instagram

Why It’s Important

If you’ve never checked or updated your privacy settings, then people you don’t even know can see your posts. Even if you think you are being careful about what you post, it’s common for teens to post sensitive information without even realizing it. It could be something as simple as an identifying background in one of your pictures… but online predators find easy prey in public profiles.

In a nutshell, keep your social profile strictly private… the best settings are where only friends can see what you post because you never really know who your friends are friends with online, so the “Friends of Friends” setting can leave you exposed and vulnerable.

Be Cautious of Friend Requests

Sure, it’s great to connect with new people through social people… but isn’t there something suspicious when a complete stranger sends you a friend request?

Play it safe and only accept friend requests from friends in the real world.

Apart from the obvious (more severe) threats… friend requests from strangers can often turn out to be spam bots (meaning you’ll be spamming your friends). Fake profiles are also created for cyber bullying. So when a new friend request comes in, and you think you know the person, be sure to check their profile first and see if anything looks fishy.

Think Before You Post!

Your social media safety is directly related to the personal information you allow others to see.  Limit the contact information in your profile and posts. Never give away your phone number or address. Keep private information private. If you want to share this information with a friend, do it directly by phone or text.

Why It’s Important for Social Media Safety

Teenagers tend to have a reckless, impulsive approach to social media. (No offense.)

That’s why it’s important to think first before you post what you are thinking or feeling. Even though you can delete something (a post, picture, comment, etc.) you can never permanently erase something that has been published on the internet.

Social Media can effect teen girls especially because they are more apt to express their feelings, while opening the door to receive feedback about themselves. Unfortunately, these interactions are not always positive.  Teen boys tend to use social media to communicate on lighter subjects, such as jokes and entertainment.  In either case, it’s important to reserve very private and personal emotions to friends in person.

More Tips for Online Safety:

  • Avoid using location services like Foursquare and disable location services on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. when posting photos. It’s cool, sure… but it’s not necessary and the risk is greater than the reward.
  • Avoid posting that you are going on vacation, or posting pictures while on vacation… until you are back home. Be also aware of the ramifications of using your cell phone at school and discuss responsible behavior within school guidelines.
  • If you do meet somebody new online, never agree to meet them off line. If somebody you met online sends or requests provocative pictures, tell an adult. You have to approach online friends (who you don’t know in the real world) as a potential predator… because even if it feels like you know them; you really don’t know who they are.

Online Safety When Posting Pictures Online

Talking to teens about internet safety can often be frustrating, especially if they pretends to listen, giving one word responses at the right times. For that reason, the first tip for talking to a teenager (about anything) is to make it a routine.

If you truly want to have meaningful two-way conversations on a variety of topics, including the short term and long term concerns of posting pictures online, laying the proper ground work is essential.

Making Time for Open Conversation

It can be weekly, or monthly, or as often as every day after dinner. Families that “enforce” open conversations are more aware of what’s really going on with every family member, and that’s important. Discussions about online safety for kids doesn’t have to (always) center around extremely sensitive, awkward, uncomfortable, or otherwise personal topics. In fact it will feel easier to talk about anything when your family has a routine of open conversation.

Some general guidelines to follow include:

  • The dinner table is a good place for casual family conversation about almost anything, but avoid topics that are too personal or uncomfortable while eating. Use these times as a good starting point to learn what your kids think and feel about various topics.
  • Open conversation should take place in a relaxed and comfortable environment. However, nobody should be distracted… and that means you should not have open conversations while driving or with the TV on.
  • During open conversations, everybody should have their cell phone off or in another room. This includes you!
  • Give your teenager your undivided attention. Ask open ended questions that can’t be given a short answer. Wait for an answer, and listen.

Above all else, having an open mind as a parent is crucial. Your teenager must feel comfortable talking to you, without fear of repercussion, or she will only give you the parts that she feels are safe to tell you.

Be Easy to Talk To

It’s frustrating when you try to talk to a teenager who won’t say much to you, but is always texting on their phone. Surely she has something to say… why are they so aloof with you?

Before you go blaming the phone, ask how difficult it might be for your teenage daughter or son to get your undivided attention. Remember that you have a lot on your mind too, so sometimes you might be too distracted and equally difficult to talk to.

Then there is the parenting style you follow. Parents who say “No, because I said so” are less easy to talk to then parents who say “No, because {explanation}.” Although your teenager is still a child in your heart, you are still raising a person who has reached a point of independence that you aren’t happy about. It shows, but there is nothing you can do to keep her a baby forever.

Make Them Laugh

The tough conversations are even tougher with a teenager. Teens know that babies aren’t brought by a stork, and at least one of their peers probably already has one on the way. When having a tough conversation with a teenager, you want to contribute information from a different perspective while also gaining an understanding of where they are coming from.

While being a good listener, you must also understand that this conversation is a million times tougher for your son or daughter to be having with you. Consider how awkward you feel bringing it up, and multiply it by infinity.

The most helpful thing you can do is set the tone to ease their discomfort. Use humor to make them laugh (but not humor that will only make her more uncomfortable!) and your child will be more likely to relax and open up to you.

Talking About Posting Pictures Online

This might come as a shock to you, but many teenagers can be reckless with the photos they post online. This is particularly true of girls. They want so badly to be seen as mature adults—and as attractive females—that they will share pictures of themselves that are various levels of inappropriate.

(You can start with that, if you want.)

Did you know that pictures you share online can be traced to your location, even if you don’t tag it on Facebook? (You can start with that too, maybe even share an article that talks about how location services in smart phone cameras place a stamp that can be used by computer-savvy web users to find out where a person is located.)

The important thing is not to go through your teenagers’ social media page without her permission and comment on pictures belonging to her or her friends. (A teens privacy on Facebook is up to each parent’s discretion and it may be as easy as ‘being friends’ with your kids on Facebook so they know you expect a certain standard of conduct). Raise awareness about various issues regarding social media and plant the seed of a new perspective.

Note- It is perfectly okay to inform your daughter that “duck lips” are terribly ridiculous looking, but a genuine smile is much more beautiful and attractive to boys!

The point is that you aren’t entirely in charge of the conversation and shouldn’t try to stick to one point. Encourage your daughter to participate by asking her opinion on inappropriate pictures (where does see the line drawn?) or finding out what she knows about geotagging.

Rather than taking the cliché paranoid parent approach, talk about posting pictures online as a casual conversation. You’ll get the answers you want, and it will give you both a chance to learn from each other.

Talking to teens about internet safety can often be frustrating, especially if they pretends to listen, giving one word responses at the right times. For that reason, the first tip for talking to a teenager (about anything) is to make it a routine.

If you truly want to have meaningful two-way conversations on a variety of topics, including the short term and long term concerns of posting pictures online, laying the proper ground work is essential.

Making Time for Open Conversation

It can be weekly, or monthly, or as often as every day after dinner. Families that “enforce” open conversations are more aware of what’s really going on with every family member, and that’s important. Discussions about online safety for kids doesn’t have to (always) center around extremely sensitive, awkward, uncomfortable, or otherwise personal topics. In fact it will feel easier to talk about anything when your family has a routine of open conversation.

Some general guidelines to follow include:

  • The dinner table is a good place for casual family conversation about almost anything, but avoid topics that are too personal or uncomfortable while eating. Use these times as a good starting point to learn what your kids think and feel about various topics.
  • Open conversation should take place in a relaxed and comfortable environment. However, nobody should be distracted… and that means you should not have open conversations while driving or with the TV on.
  • During open conversations, everybody should have their cell phone off or in another room. This includes you!
  • Give your teenager your undivided attention. Ask open ended questions that can’t be given a short answer. Wait for an answer, and listen.

Above all else, having an open mind as a parent is crucial. Your teenager must feel comfortable talking to you, without fear of repercussion, or she will only give you the parts that she feels are safe to tell you.

Be Easy to Talk To

It’s frustrating when you try to talk to a teenager who won’t say much to you, but is always texting on their phone. Surely she has something to say… why are they so aloof with you?

Before you go blaming the phone, ask how difficult it might be for your teenage daughter or son to get your undivided attention. Remember that you have a lot on your mind too, so sometimes you might be too distracted and equally difficult to talk to.

Then there is the parenting style you follow. Parents who say “No, because I said so” are less easy to talk to then parents who say “No, because {explanation}.” Although your teenager is still a child in your heart, you are still raising a person who has reached a point of independence that you aren’t happy about. It shows, but there is nothing you can do to keep her a baby forever.

Make Them Laugh

The tough conversations are even tougher with a teenager. Teens know that babies aren’t brought by a stork, and at least one of their peers probably already has one on the way. When having a tough conversation with a teenager, you want to contribute information from a different perspective while also gaining an understanding of where they are coming from.

While being a good listener, you must also understand that this conversation is a million times tougher for your son or daughter to be having with you. Consider how awkward you feel bringing it up, and multiply it by infinity.

The most helpful thing you can do is set the tone to ease their discomfort. Use humor to make them laugh (but not humor that will only make her more uncomfortable!) and your child will be more likely to relax and open up to you.

Talking About Posting Pictures Online

This might come as a shock to you, but many teenagers can be reckless with the photos they post online. This is particularly true of girls. They want so badly to be seen as mature adults—and as attractive females—that they will share pictures of themselves that are various levels of inappropriate.

(You can start with that, if you want.)

Did you know that pictures you share online can be traced to your location, even if you don’t tag it on Facebook? (You can start with that too, maybe even share an article that talks about how location services in smart phone cameras place a stamp that can be used by computer-savvy web users to find out where a person is located.)

The important thing is not to go through your teenagers’ social media page without her permission and comment on pictures belonging to her or her friends. (A teens privacy on Facebook is up to each parent’s discretion and it may be as easy as ‘being friends’ with your kids on Facebook so they know you expect a certain standard of conduct). Raise awareness about various issues regarding social media and plant the seed of a new perspective.

Note- It is perfectly okay to inform your daughter that “duck lips” are terribly ridiculous looking, but a genuine smile is much more beautiful and attractive to boys!

The point is that you aren’t entirely in charge of the conversation and shouldn’t try to stick to one point. Encourage your daughter to participate by asking her opinion on inappropriate pictures (where does see the line drawn?) or finding out what she knows about geotagging.

Rather than taking the cliché paranoid parent approach, talk about posting pictures online as a casual conversation. You’ll get the answers you want, and it will give you both a chance to learn from each other.

Parent Guide to Protecting Teens on Social Media

Protecting Teens on Social Media

Raising a teenager is no picnic! On one hand, you want to respect boundaries and give your growing child the freedom to make—and learn from—their own mistakes. On the other hand, you want to do everything in your power to protect your child from… well, everything.

(This article is directed at parents. Teens, read what you can do here).

When it comes to online safety, social media has its’ own unique set of problems for teenagers… and it can go far beyond the online predator horror stories. That’s why it’s important as a parent to be involved with your teens’ use of social media

Let’s be honest, not every parent is active on social media.

If your teen is using social media… that is a good reason why you should be too. Even if you don’t use social media actively, you should be friends with your teen so you can routinely check and see their posts. Not only will this give you a chance to see what’s really going on in their mind (because social media brings out a passive aggressive behavior in everyone, and teenagers are especially likely to Facebook their problems instead of facing them) but you can also recognize inappropriate behavior or posts, such as posting personal information.

That being said, there is away to keep tabs on your kids social media use without ever going online.  Through parental control software, parents can monitor and restrict the use of social media apps.

Note that Facebook has a filtering feature that can allow teenagers to hide certain posts from parents or other adults. Use your best judgment to determine if your child might be filtering the posts that you see.

While we’re being honest, most teenagers use another social media site more than Facebook or Twitter.

Most parents are surprised to learn that their child has social media accounts on sites they probably didn’t even know about. Talk to your child and make sure you know every site they are using and how those sites are used.

Open communication.

Parents who openly communicate with their children are more likely to receive the same approach in response. It is critical that your teenager feel safe in talking to you, because fear of punishment can result in isolated or rebellious behavior.

During the difficult teenage years, your child will want to test boundaries. They will want to do and say things that you would not approve of. This is basic human nature. It’s important that you understand and respect this, while letting them know they can talk to you about anything.

At the same time, you should lead by example and initiate those difficult discussions with your teen. Have a deeper conversation about how social media can effect their health and wellness, including issues such as body image.  Even if you only get one-word responses when asking questions, they are still listening… and it establishes a comfortable environment for open communication in your home.

It is also important to have a discussion about cell phone safety, where kids can access social media site with ease and outside the watchful eye of parents. This raises issues of cell phone safety.

Practical privacy.

Keep computers in a “public” location, rather than in their bedroom. At your discretion, it may be a good idea to routinely check computer and phone history and require that you know the passwords to all of your teen’s accounts… but keep in mind that infringing on their right to privacy may only push them further away.

In a nutshell, trust your child enough to give them leash and don’t violate their privacy without justifiable cause. However, maintain the ability to check up on your teen if they begin to show suspicious behavior. This can be achieved through an internet monitoring app.

Establish boundaries.

Boundaries, rules, and guidelines can be applied to behaviors that are allowed on social media… as well as the amount of time allowed to spend on social media. Teenagers with smart phones tend to be more interested in the cyber world and oblivious to the real world around them, but as a parent you can set the rules to prevent this from happening.

Stay informed of the threats.

Internet safety is about so much more than online predators or identity theft. In fact, teenagers are not the only vulnerable internet users.

Even parents can make mistakes on social media!!! Did you know that you should never brag about an upcoming vacation, and when you take a vacation you should wait until you return home to post pictures?

It helps to know the tricks and trends, because the more likely online threats are much more common—such as falling victim to a spambot.

Here is a guide you can give your teenager about social media safety for teens.

Raising a teenager is no picnic! On one hand, you want to respect boundaries and give your growing child the freedom to make—and learn from—their own mistakes. On the other hand, you want to do everything in your power to protect your child from… well, everything.

(This article is directed at parents. Teens, read what you can do here).

When it comes to online safety, social media has its’ own unique set of problems for teenagers… and it can go far beyond the online predator horror stories. That’s why it’s important as a parent to be involved with your teens’ use of social media

Let’s be honest, not every parent is active on social media.

If your teen is using social media… that is a good reason why you should be too. Even if you don’t use social media actively, you should be friends with your teen so you can routinely check and see their posts. Not only will this give you a chance to see what’s really going on in their mind (because social media brings out a passive aggressive behavior in everyone, and teenagers are especially likely to Facebook their problems instead of facing them) but you can also recognize inappropriate behavior or posts, such as posting personal information.

That being said, there is away to keep tabs on your kids social media use without ever going online.  Through parental control software, parents can monitor and restrict the use of social media apps.

Note that Facebook has a filtering feature that can allow teenagers to hide certain posts from parents or other adults. Use your best judgment to determine if your child might be filtering the posts that you see.

While we’re being honest, most teenagers use another social media site more than Facebook or Twitter.

Most parents are surprised to learn that their child has social media accounts on sites they probably didn’t even know about. Talk to your child and make sure you know every site they are using and how those sites are used.

Open communication.

Parents who openly communicate with their children are more likely to receive the same approach in response. It is critical that your teenager feel safe in talking to you, because fear of punishment can result in isolated or rebellious behavior.

During the difficult teenage years, your child will want to test boundaries. They will want to do and say things that you would not approve of. This is basic human nature. It’s important that you understand and respect this, while letting them know they can talk to you about anything.

At the same time, you should lead by example and initiate those difficult discussions with your teen. Have a deeper conversation about how social media can effect their health and wellness, including issues such as body image.  Even if you only get one-word responses when asking questions, they are still listening… and it establishes a comfortable environment for open communication in your home.

It is also important to have a discussion about cell phone safety, where kids can access social media site with ease and outside the watchful eye of parents. This raises issues of cell phone safety.

Practical privacy.

Keep computers in a “public” location, rather than in their bedroom. At your discretion, it may be a good idea to routinely check computer and phone history and require that you know the passwords to all of your teen’s accounts… but keep in mind that infringing on their right to privacy may only push them further away.

In a nutshell, trust your child enough to give them leash and don’t violate their privacy without justifiable cause. However, maintain the ability to check up on your teen if they begin to show suspicious behavior. This can be achieved through an internet monitoring app.

Establish boundaries.

Boundaries, rules, and guidelines can be applied to behaviors that are allowed on social media… as well as the amount of time allowed to spend on social media. Teenagers with smart phones tend to be more interested in the cyber world and oblivious to the real world around them, but as a parent you can set the rules to prevent this from happening.

Stay informed of the threats.

Internet safety is about so much more than online predators or identity theft. In fact, teenagers are not the only vulnerable internet users.

Even parents can make mistakes on social media!!! Did you know that you should never brag about an upcoming vacation, and when you take a vacation you should wait until you return home to post pictures?

It helps to know the tricks and trends, because the more likely online threats are much more common—such as falling victim to a spambot.

Here is a guide you can give your teenager about social media safety for teens.