Category: Social Media Safety

Should You Interact with Your Child on Social Media?

Mom's online with kids

Social media is an integral part of our lives these days, and that’s doubly true for kids growing up in a post-Facebook world. Since parents and children are often on the same social platforms, it may seem natural to follow your child and interact. Is it a good idea though? The topic is more complex than it seems.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Answer

Like so many other issues around parenting, this is a case where every family and child is different. What works for one may not work for another. Family dynamics and the needs of individual kids should dictate the best way to approach social media use. The important thing is to understand that these apps are likely a big part of your child’s social life and that boundaries should be respected—both yours as a parent, as well as your child’s.

The other thing to consider is that if you interact with you child on social media, you’ll need to consider your own social media settings to ensure it doesn’t effect their safety.

Here are three tips to help you navigate the often-murky waters of online interactions with your kids.

1. Have a Frank Discussion About Social Media Boundaries

There’s often no better way to answer these tough questions than just being direct and asking. The reality is that for some kids, having parents involved in their lives is normal, while for others, it’s an embarrassment.

In either case, you should have a talk about appropriate use of social media, information privacy and security, and being safe online so that even if your kids don’t want much interaction, you can help them be smart about what they do on the internet. Even if you don’t interact with them on social media, you can still set and enforce rules for safe web use.

2. Determine If Interactions Would Seem Out of Place

Facebook and even Twitter aren’t the most popular social platforms for teens and kids anymore. Many now spend their time on Instagram, Snapchat, and other platforms. So pay attention to which platforms your kids use and how they use them

If you already have accounts on the same platforms that you use on a regular basis, following and interacting with your child may make sense; if you don’t, though, you run the risk of misusing the platform and potentially embarrassing your kid—to the extent that it could cause them to migrate to other platforms or adjust settings so you can’t see as much of their activity.

3. Decide Where Your Motivation Lies

Another way to determine whether you should interact directly with your child on social media is to honestly examine your motives. If you’re only trying to police your child’s activities, you may be wasting your time; it’s relatively easy for kids to adjust privacy settings to control what you can see. It’s also not uncommon for kids to have multiple profiles, with only one visible to family.

If your family already has a trusting, open relationship with one another, it might feel natural and fine for you to interact with them in online spaces. If there’s less trust, though, getting a social media account just to monitor your children or teens could further hurt that relationship. Kids are smarter than many give them credit for—they’ll know if you’re trying to be sneaky.

Boundaries on social media may seem murky to parents, but for kids who’ve had access to these platforms their whole lives, they are often very clear. Navigating this social online world as parents takes finesse, openness, and a willingness to learn. Because in the end, the most important thing is that your kids are safe and happy.

Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate. You can find more of her work at https://hilarybird.contently.com/.

Where is Everybody on Facebook?

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Where is Everybody on Facebook?

It seems like everybody has a Facebook page. You probably do, and you probably have a lot of “friends.” And your friends may have a lot of friends. But Facebook, as an Internet site, is losing friends. Studies from organizations and from Facebook itself have found that Facebook users are spending more and more time OFF Facebook.

When they are on Facebook, they aren’t as “engaged” as they used to be. Engaged is defined as when a user does something, for example, “liking” a post, responding to posts and uploading their own posts. Some don’t even go on Facebook anymore.

Where is everybody?

After years of being one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, Facebook has found that people are going to other social media platforms to visit with others. Some teenagers go on Snapchat or Instagram or privately message people. They go to Reddit to join in on heated discussions. Tik Tok is popular now, but not only for young people.  It seems many adults from Facebook are now on Tik Tok as well.

Many older adults are only going on Facebook when they want to “catch up” with family. People are spending their time doing activities other than checking Facebook every few minutes. Those that do use Facebook don’t “share” or “like” as much as they once did. They post less and less and they log in less frequently.

Comments online point to problems people have with Facebook. Some don’t like all the advertisements that pop up. Some don’t like that their profile information gets sold to big companies. Other people are upset that Facebook sometimes deletes posts that don’t agree with their philosophy.

Still others think that Facebook is an outdated social media platform and even old-fashioned. Those people think that Facebook is like myspace, slowly getting replaced and fading into the past.

Of course, Facebook is still strong. The company is worth billions of dollars, but not as much as it used to be. Its strength is slowing fading. The business is trying to get people interested in it again.

They’re sending out “memory” reminders and “friend anniversary” notifications, hoping people remember how much they used to enjoy Facebook. Many people find the notifications annoying. Luckily, they can turn that off. They can also enjoy other activities, which many are choosing to do.

Where is everybody who used to be on Facebook? Maybe they’re playing one-on-one in the gym or reading a book. Some are hanging out with their flesh and blood friends in the real world.

Yes, Facebook is still there, waiting for you to log on and check your wall. Facebook can wait. Your life can’t.

Why Adults are Dumping Social Media?

You love your computer. You enjoy playing games online. Maybe your Dad lets you post messages to your cousins using his social media page. You can’t wait until you get your own social media account. Don’t hold your breath. By the time you are old enough, social media won’t be the same!

In the last few months, people have become very angry with Facebook. Upset. Facebook took personal details about their lives and sold those details to make money. For many people, selling their information was an invasion of privacy. Imagine someone you don’t know sneaking into your bedroom and picking through your dresser drawers. That’s what many adults thought it felt like.

So many people were mad at Facebook that they closed and deleted their pages. Steve Wozniak, one of the men who started the company that makes Apple computers and iPhone, deleted his Facebook account. So did Elon Musk, the tech whiz who just launched a car into space. And so did Will Ferrell, the actor who played the main character in the Christmas movie ELF.

More importantly, almost 3 million young adults under the age of 25 stopped using Facebook. These people didn’t like their private information being used to make money for a gigantic company.

Most of the time, when your personal information is sold, it is used to try to sell you something or to sell something to your Facebook friends. This may not seem all that bad, but it means that all the facts of your life online are being examined by strangers. These strangers don’t care about you or your friends. They do care about making money. You are just how they make that money.

Another problem adults have with Facebook is that their information can be used to steal their identity. Identity theft is when someone takes another person’s personal details and applies for things like credit cards, bank accounts and money from the government. Identity thieves sometimes use the stolen identity to get mobile phone accounts and run up huge bills. They even steal the identity of little kids.

Many of those victims don’t know that their identities have been stolen because most little kids don’t apply for credit cards or file tax returns or any of the other things that alert people to identity theft. When the child grows up and does apply for a credit card, he or she may discover that they owe money all over the world. This can happen when private information is used by thieves. This is another reason that many adults are leaving Facebook.

Parents are also deciding if they should be following their children to other popular social media apps.  But do kids want their parents watching what they do on social media?  Regardless, millions of people around the world are deciding that Facebook isn’t the most popular places to be these days.   What about you?

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Life of a 13 Year Old Girl in the Social Media Jungle

Her alarm goes off – much too early. She was up texting with her girlfriends into the early hours of the morning, stifling her giggles so mom and dad wouldn’t hear. She didn’t want to miss a single confession or inside joke, not to mention the late night activity on Twitter and Snapchat.

There are just as many posts after bedtime as there are during school hours, and she would feel pretty stupid at school if she missed out on something big from the night before. Drama actually happens pretty frequently online and over text when she’s burrowed under the covers with only the light of her cell phone – whether it’s an ugly feud between best friends, a rude meme about someone at school, or a nasty breakup with insults flying.

After snoozing once or twice, finally rolling out of bed at the angry threat of her mother, she stumbles through her morning routine, slowing only to double and triple check her appearance in the mirror.

She needs to look cute enough to be popular and desired by the boys; she can’t break the school’s dress code, and she also can’t look like she’s trying too hard or looking too promiscuous or else she’ll risk being called a slut. She knows what her friends say about other girl’s outfits behind their back.

She splits her attention between her teacher’s lessons and the constant stream of texts and snaps she hides under her desk. When she passes up the worksheets at the end of science class she hears stifled laughter from the punk boys behind her.

They’re always cheating off her papers and getting her in trouble. She looks down at the stack of papers in her hands to see that they also handed up a scrap of paper with a very giant and detailed drawing of private parts. She feels sick but just rolls her eyes at them, crumpling the paper into the trash can down the aisle as she leaves.

On the bus ride home from school she sits next to her next door neighbor, Summer, and they pass the time by showing each other Instagram accounts of cute boys at neighboring schools or connecting apps like Mastodon, Twitter, and TikTok. They talk about the ones they know from church or sports groups, the ones they’ve talked to through direct messages or texting, and the ones they follow but don’t actually know at all.

She’s surprised to hear that some of these boys have also asked Summer for intimate photos – she’s had a few of those requests of her own.

“Did you send them?” she asks nervously.

“Well… no. I was too scared.” Summer replies sheepishly.

She feels relief that her friend also turned down the not-so-polite request from these teen boys. She frequently wondered if any of her friends had delivered on the request.

Charging her nearly-dead phone upon getting home, she has an hour or so of uninterrupted homework before a phone-free dinner – her parent’s rule.

“How was your day today sweetie? School good?” her dad asks between mouthfuls of peas.

“It was good. Just a regular day.”

About the Author:

Tyler Jacobson is a husband, father, freelance writer and outreach specialist with experience with organizations that help troubled teens and parents. His areas of focus include: parenting, social media, addiction, mental illness, and issues facing teenagers today. Follow Tyler on: Twitter | LinkedIn


It’s critical to talk to your teen girls – and not just about their homework. Social media has turned their world into something most parents wouldn’t recognize. Talk to your daughter about her friends, which social media apps she uses, boys, drugs, and even the taboo subject of her body.

You won’t regret the extra effort, even if it feels awkward. She needs you, and those conversations, to keep her rooted in a world of confusing values and social media.

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A Teens Guide to Social Media Safety

Social Media Guide for 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 teens and younger kids on social media.  It’s like a doorway in the house to the entire world where people can come and go as they please.

(This article is for teens. Parents, read about your role in social media safety for teens).

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 empowering you as an individual 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 Social Media 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.

Privacy Settings Instructions for Popular Social Media sites: 

Why Privacy Has Never Been More 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.

But it’s not just cyberbullies, trolls and predictors that are on social media looking for trouble.  Cybercriminals and scammers that use information from social media profiles to commit identify theft or send you phishing or smishing (text) messages.

Consider Peer Pressure

Decide how much you really want to be on social media.  Some people love it.  Other people would rather interact with friends offline.  Some platforms are more addictive than others and more harmful in other ways as well, such as how social media can effect a person’s image of themselves and their overall well being.

Talk to your parents or a school counselor about how they may be able to help you fight peer pressure to join social media in the first place.  It’s ok to not have a special media profile at all or limit yourself to one or two of your favorites.

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!

Two Teens Posting Selfie on Social Media

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.

Read more about Social Media Safety for kids of all ages:

Social Media Safety Tips for Kids

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