Category: Social Media Safety

Safe Instagram for Teens – A Detailed Parent’s Guide

Instagram Privacy for Kids

One of a parent’s nightmares is to see their child falling into the nippers of social media platforms, especially Instagram.  When people are not aware of its hidden dangers, they can lose money, become victims of data theft, and even get blackmailed.

Let’s have a closer look at Instagram dangers no one talks about.

Safety Concerns for Your Teen on Instagram

Before we talk about ways to keep your kids safe on Instagram, let’s talk about the dangers that are eyeing for your teens:

  • Every one in ten Instagram accounts is fake, created either to steal the data or inject a virus/malware into the targeted device.
  • A recent Pew survey revealed that around 59% of teens had been bullied online. Every one in five teens has been bullied on Instagram.
  • Recent research from Arkose Lab revealed that 27% of social media transactions happened between January 2020 and March 2020.
  • Instagram has been a favorite place for hackers and scammers from the day it was launched. Scams of all sorts like job scams, romance scams, shopping scams, and the like often happen on Instagram.

The above-mentioned data is adequate to give a glimpse of what dangers Instagram possesses secretively. Now, let’s come to the point and talk about ways to deal with them.

Educate Your Children about the Dangers

We know it seems complicated, but every parent must educate their children about all these perils of Instagram, their sister app Threads, and social media in general.  Make them understand that they must not follow or accept the following request from a random or unknown account. Make them aware of all the unseen dangers. Awareness is the tool to deal with any kind of hassles.

Stay in Loop

To know what your child is doing on Instagram, you must first be on the platform and keep a close watch. We know you will already have an Instagram. If you and your child follow each other, then you’re doing great. If not, then do it today.

Make Most of Instagram Assistance

Instagram itself is aware of the dangers and offers tons of tools to stay safe as much as possible. Don’t worry; you’ll find some easy to use settings and filters in their sensitive content and family center. So, you and your teen child will have no worries about implementing these. Here are some of them.

Account (Private or Public)

Instagram allows you to control the account’s identity and footprint. Any Instagram account can be either private or public. No one can access private accounts. Pictures and posts will be locked. Only the followers will be able to see them.

On the other hand, public accounts are accessible to everyone and photos can be shared freely without regard for privacy.

Anyone can view the posts, share the pictures, and send text messages. Clearly, a private account is a safer way to have an Instagram presence. Encourage your teens to make their accounts private.

Manage Comments

Unwanted conversations can lead to many hassles. We have seen many teens getting bullied on their posts. Some have even got body-shamed openly in comments. Instagram offers “Comment Controls” features using unwanted commenting that can be prevented. With this feature, your teen can control who should comment on their posts.

Not only this, comments can be filtered out. Instagram has built some powerful filters that will automatically remove offensive words and phrases. You or your teen can create a list of their own bad words or emojis. This way, many sorts of offensive content can be kept out of your kids’ reach.

Story Sharing To Close Friends

Not every Instagram follower is worthy enough to watch your teen’s stories. Encourage your teens to limit the stories access by creating a list of close friends and share the story with them. They can add or delete members in this list at any time.

Manage Control

Instagram lets end-users decide who can text them, add them into a different group, or add them into a chat list. With this kind of control, tons of cyberattacks and hassles can be prevented.

Two-way Authentication

Prevent unauthorized access to your teen’s account by using the two-way authentication facility.

This is an added security feature, powered by a secure code. Only the linked mobile phone will receive that code. So, any other won’t be able to access your teen’s Instagram account.

Also, make sure you use a strong password to make Instagram account more secure.

Ending Notes

Instagram is a wonderful place to be, provided all of its risks and dangers are far away. Teens can easily carry away from the glitz and gleam of Instagram and overlook the hidden dangers of Instagram. But, a parent can’t afford to do that.  The challenge becomes greater for younger kids, in which case you’ll want to implement easy to understand social media safety tips.

If you’re also a parent wondering how to keep your teen kids safe on Instagram then talk to them about the safety concerns and encourage them to keep their account private and utterly secure. When used responsibly, Instagram is superb.

Discover ways that teachers can use Instagram as a teaching tool inside and outside of the classroom.

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Snapchat Kids | Is Snapchat Safe for Kids?

Snapchat Kids

Snapchat is currently one of the most popular apps used among teens but it’s even higher up the list of popularity when it comes to usage by tweens, kids aged 9 to 12.  This is the case even though the signup age restriction is 13 and it questionable if anyone under 16 should even be using the app. Whatever the case, parental interaction is advised.

Snapchat is based on the ability for users to send pictures and videos instantly to friends with the added twist that those pics and vids will only be seen from 1 to 10 seconds, then disappear.  The user decides how long their followers will be able to view the content.  This feature is what first attracted youngsters. It garners instant attention with friends and also has a chat feature for instant communication.   The problem is the short time limits that an image is available on the app for all to see can also give kids a false sense of security.

When Snapchat first came on the scene it mainly went unnoticed by parents because let’s face it, a few years ago we were not as savvy at keeping up on the latest craze in social media networking apps.  Facebook was king and other social media platforms were not in the forefront people’s minds when it came to protecting kids online.  Today, parents and guardians are more in the loop and aware of the due diligence needed to stay on top of evolving technologies.  We also use apps as much as kids do, just not the same ones.

Before we speak to possible solutions to either block a Snapchat app download or restrict it’s use, let’s look at the current status of Snapchat dangers and pitfalls.

The Dangers of Snapchat

One the attractive things to teens about Snapchat in the early days of the app was that kids were always told that “anything they upload online will be there forever, even after you delete”.  This is still true in many cases.  However, one of the social media safety tips kids need to know that sending an image to all your followers even for just a second doesn’t mean some of those connections will take a screen shot of that image before it disappears.  This results in that seemingly instant photo being in the possession of others for as long as they wish to keep it or share it with others.

The bottom line, Snapchat is not any more dangerous any other app where kids are connected to other kids except that is may embolden users to take greater risks with the images or videos they create and send out into cyberspace.  So, while each parent should decide how old their children should be before they go on Snapchat, an open conversation about online behavior has never been more vital.  Online security and privacy protection may be increasing in the technology but it’s often only as good as a users behavior on that technology.

It’s also important to note that while images may not be readily available online there are ways to recover images from the users computer or phone even after they have be removed from the Snapchat app.  We all need to take a lesson and pass it on to kids.  Digital footprints online and even on our own private computers, the cloud, and on phones stress the importance of being responsible with our pictures and private information.  The lesson to be learned by parents and to be taught to our kids is the same for all online activity online. “Be responsible and don’t do anything that may come back to haunt you later in life”.

Monitoring Snapchat Usage

Like any website, app or anything kids do online, the standard rules apply.  Families need to have educational conversations about what they share online and who they share it with.  Beyond that, the only way to truly have control over your child’s web surfing habits and social media usage including Snapchat, is to install parental controls.  With these controls you can monitor and have a say in all online activity.  This includes setting restrictions at various levels according to the ages of family members, while blocking the worst of the worst content at all times.

Safe Search Kids restricts the all harmful content while searching Google from the top of our website, but it doesn’t prevent users from leaving our website to search elsewhere.

Parental control means you can decide to block all app downloads or only those specific apps you may deem too young for your kids.  After a child has permission to download and use an app, parental control software allows parents to manage and monitor the usage.

It’s not just control over Snapchat, it’s any social media app including Tiktok, Instagram, Messenger, Mastodon, Facebook, even WhatsAppand the next big social media fad we don’t even know about yet.  New ways to connect with friends will always be attractive to that kids who want to connect with their friends online without parental supervision.  It happened to Facebook when young people left the world’s #1 social media platform for Instagram.  It’s totally natural.  The older kids get the more they want to forge their own identity.  Parents just want the internet savvy and tools to guide kids in a safe and healthy manner as they explore their world online.

Parental Controls

At the very least parents should learn how Snapchat can be monitored using the existing safety settings available within the Snapchat app.   For complete monitoring of all apps, considering installing a third part parental control app that gives parents complete monitoring within their home and everywhere else a child’s phone may roam.

Most features include:

  • App usage and blocker.
  • Screen time controls.
  • Web content control.
  • Parental alerts.
  • Family locator.
  • Activity reports.
  • Custom settings for each individual family member on multiple devices.
  • Monitor call history.
  • Monitor text messages.
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TikTok and Online Security | Is TikTok Safe for Kids?

Is TikTok Safe for Kids?

You might have recently heard about some of the scandalous accusations that have been aimed at TikTok. Their accused lack of respect for peoples’ privacy and for online security has led to people wondering if they are spying and even seen calls for the app to be banned in the USA.

In this guide, we’re looking at some of the reasons why people are so suspicious of TikTok and going in depth on whether or not you should trust this social media giant.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media company that is similar in some respects to other visual platforms like Vine and Instagram. It focuses on short, snappy videos. There are effects you can add as well as songs and soundtracks, and these make a lot of the videos perfect for sharing. There are TikTok celebs in the same way that there are YouTube celebs as the younger generation especially become infatuated with the platform.

The TikTok Controversy: Is TikTok Safe?

People suspect that they are less than honest for a few different reasons. The Chinese company that owns TikTok has been accused of working with the Chinese government and the CCP in order to spy on Americans and other nationalities using the app.

Also, TikTok has had a chequered past where 42 million user profiles were exposed in a massive data leak, and because it is quite an open platform it can be abused by some scammers.

Why would TikTok want to steal peoples’ information?

It is hard to know the exact motives, but the accusations of links to spy groups suggest that they could wield some very powerful information. If the TikTok security was breached (something that a lot of people are concerned about) then this information, and the huge amount of data that the app requests to store when you use it, could be utilized for those with sinister intentions.

One of the things that has made people suspicious is the fact that TikTok records so much, including your location and even your device’s keystrokes.

Identity Theft Facts

Did you know that cybersecurity statistics show that nearly 1 in 3 DATA breach victims (30.5%) also suffered from identity fraud In 2013 – up from 22.5% in 2012. And this was years ago, Identity theft has been on the rise ever since, before TikTok was even on the scene. This type of theft is becoming more viable, and more easy to implement for certain criminals and this means that it is growing. Identity theft could well overtake physical forms of theft. People can use your details to borrow money or even to commit crimes, so it is important to be really cautious about what information you make available.

Identity theft can seem like something a bit abstract and like it is not relevant to you, but over 60% of those hit by scams say they have no idea how it happened to them. You can never be too careful as it can happen to anyone out there.

How to protect yourself and your children from Identity Theft

If you are at all worried then you should remember that you don’t have to get a TikTok account, and even if your children are desperate to have one, you might want to discourage this use of social media wherever possible. Though it doesn’t seem fun, it is worth actually reading the privacy policy and terms and conditions of the app. If you aren’t comfortable, steer clear.

If you do create an account, ensure that it is a private account, and see if your device will allow you to stop apps and third parties tracking your use of the device while you use the apps as this can be a way to prevent identity theft and stop loads of details about you and your life from being collected. 

How Safe is TikTok for Kids and Teens?

TikTok Safety and Online Security

As with any social media platform, there are certain risks associated with the app that parents should be aware of. One risk includes the potential for exposure to inappropriate content. While it’s true that the app’s official guidelines prohibit illegal or inappropriate content to be shared, it’s worth noting that there aren’t real people managing this process. Instead, TikTok relies on digital algorithms to automatically filter out content that violates the app’s official guidelines. The reality of this is that some illicit content will inevitably fly under the radar and end up on users’ screens.  

Another area of concern is the potential for communication with strangers. With over one billion users on the app, the risk of contact with strangers shouldn’t be ignored. Teens aged 16+ that create an account will have their profile set to public by default, and their account activity is visible to anyone. While accounts made by children between the ages of 13 and 15 are automatically set to private, it’s not hard to bypass this restriction—all they have to do is enter a false birth date when they register for an account. 

While there are many parental controls parents can activate to mitigate many of these risks and create a safer experience for their children who use the app, it’s still important to be educated on the potential dangers that come with any social media platform. Knowing what privacy settings you can manage and taking time to set technology boundaries with your kids are some of the best ways you can ensure your kids are protected on TikTok.

Cyberbullying on TikTok

TikTok has taken steps to combat this issue by implementing reporting mechanisms, content moderation, and algorithmic changes to promote positive interactions. However, parents should be diligent to recognize the signs of cyberbullying to protect their children.

One of the main reasons why cyberbullying thrives on TikTok is the ability to hide behind a screen. Users can create anonymous accounts or use pseudonyms, making it difficult to identify the perpetrators. This anonymity emboldens cyberbullies, allowing them to engage in hurtful behavior that not only affects the victims’ mental and emotional well-being, but it also creates an environment where bullying can persist unchecked.

Because of the viral nature of TikTok’s content, well meaning videos that gain popularity can quickly attract negative attention, leading to a barrage of hurtful comments, insults, and even threats. The comments section, where users can interact and leave their thoughts, can easily become a breeding ground for cyberbullying.

What Will Happen To TikTok?

Nobody has specific proof that TikTok is being used to spy on people or to steal identities. In the world of politics there is plenty of debate about the app and its use as people realize just how much power the owners of the app, ByteDance, who first acquired musically then transformed it into TikTok, could have if they really are tapping into that personal data.

If the claims are valid then it is probably a good idea to come off the app, but also to protect yourself in other ways. You can use identity monitoring services to try and establish whether data about you has leaked or become available on the black market. If some of the claims that have been made about TikTok and the Chinese government links then there is every chance that there will be some really drastic measures taken very soon.

The Future of Tiktok

TikTok seems to be tightening up some of its security.  The recent bad PR has led to the app trying to build confidence from consumers that they are not trying to steal data from people or collude with parties who are less than trustworthy.  It still remains to be seen how safe TikTok can be for kids.

The app could be removed from app stores if it is not up to scratch in terms of its privacy policies, so there are real threats to whether it will continue to exist within the western hemisphere. The threat of this will surely lead to the app becoming more watertight and giving users a lot more security controls. If not, the days of cute cat videos on TikTok could be numbered.

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Social Media Safety Tips are Not Only for Kids

Social Media Safety Tips for Adults

Kids sometimes feel insulted or frustrated when always warned by adults about the dangers of social media. They shouldn’t be. Just because someone has more life experience and education doesn’t mean they won’t make stupid mistakes on social media.

The Internet is full of frightening and sometimes laughable stories about adults who should know better getting in serious trouble over social media activity.

Young adults with high enough marks to apply for college will probably find that their social media history could prevent them from higher education. Admissions officers at universities and colleges commonly read a candidate’s Facebook page before deciding to accept his or her application.

Some goes as far as to search for candidate’s who have been tagged by friends to see pictures of that candidate’s behavior.

Rude and mean behavior isn’t all that recruiters look for; some potential students have lost athletic scholarships valuing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars because they posted pictures of injuries which scared off sports recruiters.

The scrutiny continues when adults apply for work. An on-line site published by Time Magazine reported that 93% of businesses check out an applicant’s tweets and posts before offering the person a job. Any behavior that reflects poorly on a company will tend to have a resume tossed to the side.

Even adult with good, solid jobs have to be careful on-line. People have lost their jobs because bosses saw posts critical to the business. Workers have been fired or reprimanded when bosses spotted posts that were made during work hours or found tweets where employees complained about their jobs in off-work hours.

Privacy settings don’t keep adults safe, either. Friends can like a post or re-tweet a few words that can easily be found by others.

You don’t even have to post words or pictures for social media to get into trouble.

In 2015, an Australian woman had a real-life dispute with a co-worker in her office. She later went home and unfriended the co-worker. A job-place tribunal found the woman guilty of cyberbullying—all because she hit the unfriend button.

Adults are absolutely correct when they lecture kids about being smart with social media. With more experience in dealing with life and the world, adults have a better grasp of dangers that lurk on-line. Yet all that experience and knowledge can’t prevent adults from getting into trouble with posts and tweets.

Regardless of age or education, anyone can get into trouble or be personally damaged by a simple slip on social media.

Is Your Social Media Profile the Real You?

Social Media SafetyThink back to when you made your social media profile. You typed in your age, some basic information about yourself, the music you liked and the movies you enjoyed. This became part of the You that the world could see on line anytime. And, chances are, that ‘You’ isn’t totally real.

Recent studies have found that most Facebook users misrepresent at least some part of their profile. One common bit of information likely to be untrue is the user’s age. Young users tend to make themselves out to be older than they really are.

Facebook has a policy that users under the age of 13 cannot be members. An estimated 80% of kids under the age of 13 have a Facebook account,* which means that all those kids have false information in their profile.

In many instances, these profiles are done with parents’ permission and monitoring, allowing children to keep in touch with distant relatives and close, trusted friends. As these children get older, few change their ages back, preferring instead to be considered “older” and “more mature.” That means that you could be chatting with someone you think is, say, 18, when that boy or girl could be only fifteen, if not younger.

Some people give themselves a younger age. This can be vanity–or a way to make a younger person feel more comfortable talking to them online. By appearing younger in a Facebook profile, little children are more likely to share plans and activities, helping make them an easy target for predators, who more than likely may have a totally fake social media profile.

Another way people are likely to misrepresent themselves on social media is by downplaying negative parts of their lives and exaggerating the good stuff. This is easy to understand. Many people are embarrassed to tell others when life doesn’t go their way. All of us want others to think the best of us and look at us in a good light. Posts may never present us in the real moment when we are not dressed in the latest fashion.

Suppose that you raved on Facebook about how well a team try-out or a date went, when in reality you feel disappointed. Your friends might congratulate you, which could make you feel even worse when you don’t make the team.

In reality, your life is your business. Being completely honest about every little feeling you have can be wearing on both you and your friends. Imagine posting every thought, every move, every activity and every little thing you do, from washing your face to putting on your shoes. You decide what is important enough to post.

Many people make a habit out of keeping their social media simple and basic. They post birthday messages and social activities that are already common knowledge. Personal information is shared only with personal, real friends. After all, what you do in your real life is the real you.

* READ our recent article on NIMBLE NUMBERS. After reading that, you might find yourself asking about how truthful the 80% number is. The question you should be asking is, “Where did that number come from?” In this case, the 80% figure came from a Consumer Report survey published on pcworld.com, both sources known for being fair and accurate.

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