Let's be real, when we were young kids, social media wasn't a big thing like it is now. Sure, we had our Myspace accounts, AOL emails, and penguin chats, but it seems like the risks and dangers of being online weren't something many people knew about, let alone parents. So now we've grown up, have become parents ourselves, and live in a world where almost everyone is on some kind of online media platform. Don't get me wrong, it can be fun sharing our lives and updating our friends and family with our happy and memorable times, but are we keeping ourselves educated and aware of the major dangers that exist if we share too much, especially when it involves our kids? Join us as we share important tips on how you can still have a healthy relationship with social media but also keep your little ones and family safe in the process.
According to the University of Florida Levin College of Law:
92 per cent of 2-year-olds in the US have an online presence. But their hilarious missives and adorable mishaps aren’t the only things viewers are gleaning.
When children appear in Facebook photos, 45.2 percent of the posts also mention the child’s first name, and 6.2 percent reference the child’s date of birth, allowing all viewers to establish the exact age of the child. On Instagram, 63 per cent of parents reference their child’s first name in at least one photo in their stream, 27 per cent of parents reference their child’s date of birth, and 19 per cent share both pieces of information.
Sometimes in our excitement to share all about our kids' funny moments or heartwarming milestones, we're actually sharing a lot more information about them to the world than we may realize. So how do we keep our kids safe?
1. Don't Share Sensitive Information
This one may sound like a no-brainer, but it really is something to take seriously. When you are on social media, it can be easy to forget who is actually following you, and you may naively to share too much information about your life and family.
- Don't share where you live, whether that's a physical address or what the front of your house looks like.
- Don't share where your child goes to school.
- Don't share what city team they play for if they do sports.
- Try not to share their actual birthday.
- Don't share any kind of sensitive information about your child (or anyone in your family.)
2. Be Careful of Who Follows You
Don't let anyone friend you who seems even remotely sketchy. That can be anything from a spamy name account or a faceless profile photo, or just someone who doesn't look trustworthy. Don't allow them to follow you. Trust your instincts, if something or someone doesn't look right, trust it! In fact, it's safer to only allow followers who you personally know and trust.
Also try not to tag so many people in your images, because that automatically gives them access to share the photo you tagged them in.
3. Set Up Parenting/Privacy Controls
If you allow your children to use the internet, it's important you set up time and content restrictions to keep them safe.
There are many parenting apps out there that allow you to choose what sites and apps your child can download or view. Restrict audience and collection terms to the tightest settings a service allows.
If a platform allows, consider making your accounts private, or allow certain groups like ones specified for only certain friends or family members to see albums, stories, or photos of your kids or family.
Make sure your password is strong and you have a 2-step authentication, which will help prevent hackers from accessing your account and taking any sensitive information or images.
4. Don't Use Location-Based Services
Location-based services can be one of the most dangerous features provided by social networking sites. According to GoDoyle, "It can also increase your vulnerability to burglary, assault, or worse. Predators can use this tool to easily track your movements and figure out when you are alone or not at home."
If you are at an event, vacation, or a place you don't often go, consider posting about it hours later, when you have already left so no one knows where you are currently. People don't need to know exactly where you are. Delaying your post for a few hours won't diminish the excitement of it, and it can keep you safer!
You can configure your location services in the general settings of your phone.
5. Educate Yourself
Learn all you can about whatever social media app you or your child is using. Understand how they work and who will see your posts. Read the fine print when you're setting up an account. Understand what the company does with the data you share. Learn about the features they have to ensure your privacy--most apps and platforms will have a way to keep your account or personal information safer.
It's also never too late to start educating your children on social media’s inherent dangers, including what not to share online, and how to use social media as a force for good.
You can learn more about the dangers of parental oversharing here.
More Tips to Keep Your Family Safe on Social Media:
- Don't share your child's full name
- Keep an open dialogue with your child
- Don't share when you're out of town (and if you do, make sure you have a good security system)
- Try to not post pictures of just your child, especially if your account isn't private. If it's public, try to be in as many photos of them as you can
As parents, our top priority is to keep our children safe (and healthy and loved), so now that almost anything can be shared on social media, it's crucial to create a healthy relationship with social media.
Our online presence and social media have become a heavy influence in our generation and will likely grow even more prominent in our kids' world. There is a good side of it, but there can also be a lot of bad parts about it.
We need to not only be cautious of the role it plays in our lives, but also be aware of what we share. We also need to educate our kids for when the day comes that they have their own phones and accounts on social media. Think before you post anything that can be used to cause harm, be stolen, is too personal, or can cause danger to your family.
Don't let social media use take over your life, because it truly is your family that matters the most! I hope this post has given you some helpful tips on the safety of social media. Be sure to keep an eye on our blog for more helpful tips!