Social Media Safety



Imagine life for teens without social media? Imagine how they'd react if suddenly smartphones disappeared in a flash?

Today Facebook & Twitter dominates many adolescent's every day activities, not a day goes by when we don't spot a photo upload on instagram or a quick snapchat about how they REALLY DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL. We've previously argued why we should embrace these ideas in the classroom, how they can help with learning and work to our advantage, yet we often question whether many of us are teaching our children how to use these platforms safely.

It's one thing to warn them of the dangers of what's out there, but it's another to actually sit down and display the damage that they themselves can do, let alone others. With this in mind, here are our top tips for monitoring and educating children on how to be smart about social media and how to handle the tricky situations that may arise...

The Good

  • Keeps children in the loop and up to date with social events

  • Enhances creativity by sharing ideas

  • Offers a good way of staying connected with family and friends

  • A good way of following interests

  • Helps to build technological skills

The Bad

  • Cyberbullying

  • The dangers of stranger contact

  • 7/10 post their real school name, hometown etc

  • Photo privacy

  • Too much time staring at a screen

Educate yourself about social media.

It goes without saying that before you teach your children about a subject you should know all about it yourself. Use the internet to your advantage and read up on the privacy policies of each platform. Do your research about the dangers your child may encounter and find solutions, or ask friends and family about their approach to social media. Try not to worry too much about the what ifs or not knowing how to handle a problem that may arise, take it all in your stride and deal with them in the way that YOU see fit, you know your child best afterall.

Use privacy settings.

As previously mentioned, understand how Facebook, Twitter and instagram work. Is there an age limit? Is there a secure way of hiding information and photographs? By considering these factors you're already on your way to creating a safer environment for your child to connect in. Teach your teens how to use privacy tools on their social networking pages too. They should get in the habit of double-checking their settings every time they post something, all it takes is a simple click and their information will only be shared with the people they see fit.

Think twice before hitting "enter."

Every child has moments where they act before they think. An innocent post can quite easily turn into a disaster so make sure to reiterate to the social butterflies that everything they say online has an affect. If they're wishing to vent an opinion then it should be done so where it cannot esculate out of control. It's important they they know that much of what they write can be seen by others and therefore there are consequences.

Never post when angry

Cyberbullying, discuss what it is, and what to do when you encounter inappropriate behavior online. We've all had days where we want to scream and shout about something that's annoyed us, but Facebook definitely is NOT the place to do it. As previously discussed, the consequences of these types of posts can be devastating so your child must understand that there is no room for negativity on social platforms. If seen, it must be reported, and if encountered they must seek advice.

Limit your friends

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram AND every other app/site must be limited to FRIENDS ONLY. Children should be helped to deal with what they may come across whilst browsing and they need the knowledge and skills to build up resilience to the things they find online. It's adviseable to put the laptop or computer in a room where you can supervise from a distance and keep tabs on what is going on. Most of the time kids know what is going to happen to them if they are talking to strangers in person. What they may not know, though, is what will happen to them when the strangers are online. Advise them to stay away from as many unnecessary contacts as possible, because the larger and looser the network, the greater the chance of danger.

Be cautious with apps

With most of today's adolescents having smartphones, it's inevitable that the social apps are going to be downloaded. Although to them this may seem harmless, many platforms such as Facebook are then granted access to private information on their phone, such as contacts, messages and photos. You can check these by going to Account, then Privacy Settings. Under Apps and Websites, click "Edit your settings.This will allow you to define privacy settings for each app listed and restrict what information you want that app to access, although take note that you won't be able to restrict everything.

At the end of the conversation, kids need to know that they can come to you with ANY questions or concerns. While your job as a teacher or parent is to be an educator and guardian first, it is important that they see you as a partner in online explorations. Failure to do so runs that risk that they'll work to educate themselves without your knowledge and they won't come to you if something is wrong.