8 Social Media Tips for Parents

8-sm-tipsEver hear the saying, “Don’t put down in writing what you wouldn’t want your mother to see“? In today’s digital world, that old adage couldn’t be more true–and we can also add to it. “Don’t put down in writing or take a picture of anything you wouldn’t want your mother to see.” Unfortunately for Jennifer Lawrence and a number of other celebrities, they didn’t adhere to that basic principle and are paying the price now, as intimate photographs of themselves were stolen from their online iCloud accounts and reposted for the world to see.

Some of those celebrities say they had deleted those photos years ago. Which goes to prove the truth behind another wise saying–the internet never forgets.

This unfortunate event provides the perfect opportunity to sit down with your children and teach them about staying safe and making good choices on social media. Below, we’ve provided some tips for you to help your child manage their social media accounts. But first, here’s a quick primer on the major social media platforms:

Facebook: This platform allows the user to connect with other Facebook “friends” throughout the universe, sharing “status” updates and photos, playing games, and instant messaging. You can set strict privacy settings, but they have to be reviewed every now and then to make sure they are still set.

Twitter: This is what they call a “micro-blogging” platform. Users can post thoughts & opinions and share links, but are limited to 140 characters in each “tweet”. You can set their account to private, but it still doesn’t keep your child from viewing all the other content that gets posted.

Instagram: This is a photo-sharing platfrom that seems to be most popular among our students. Again, you can set the account settings to private but it does not stop the user from seeing everyone else’s content. Users upload photos or videos and then others can comment on them.

Tumblr: Another “micro-blogging” platform that allows users to post videos, pictures, links, or short bits of text and easily share with friends or “followers”. It’s a cross between social networking sites and a blog. It’s become more popular than Facebook with teenage users.

Here are 8 social media tips to help you guide your kids through social media safely and wisely:

  1. Browse through the social media sites to get a feel for the content that is posted there. Then decide whether it would be appropriate to set-up an account for your child. Make sure you have their username and passwords for all their accounts.
  2. Set their accounts to “Private” so that they must approve whoever can view their profiles.
  3. Teach them not to accept “friend” or “follower” requests from people they don’t know.
  4. Never allow them to post any personal information, including their address, email, or phone number. For an extra layer of security, don’t allow them to use their last names on their profiles.
  5. Create an account on any social media site your child is on so that you can monitor what is being posted by and about them.
  6. Use this rule of thumb before posting: Is it true, helpful, neccesary, inspiring, or kind?
  7. Limit their social media time the way you limit their screen time or gaming time.
  8. Explain to them that anything you put on the internet, no matter how private, can be “hacked” or stolen and distributed without their permission, or even viewed by potential employers.

You may not be able to control every aspect of your child’s online presence, but teaching them good social media habits from the beginning can go a long way toward keeping them safe in the future.

Additional resources:
Technology Safety through the Eyes of Faith: A collaboration between the USCCB &
the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
What is Tumblr?
Are Middle Schoolers too young for Facebook?
Cyberbullying
Stay Safe Online
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