The telephone, it seems, has become an antique. Social media and texting are the way that most Generation Yers and Millennials communicate with each other both at school and after class. Blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter give young people an outlet for expressing their individuality, connecting with friends, keeping in touch and sharing links, photos and videos of the things they like.
If your child is at the age where he or she is beginning to use social media, or is older and completely engaged with Facebook, there are a couple of important things for you both to remember: It can be social and fun, but putting your entire life on social media can expose your teen to dangerous situations and could seriously affect your son’s or daughter’s future.
If your child is blogging every tiny detail of her life, or posting 100 photos (and tagging them) to Facebook at a time, she’s putting too much personal information out on the Internet for the world to see.
Here’s a test: Sit down together and ask your child to Google themselves – then you can both see how much information comes up. Look it over – how much could a complete stranger learn about your child’s life with a simple search in one of the popular search engines such as Google or Bing? Do you want everyone to have access to that information? Strangers, for example, shouldn’t have access to your son’s or daughter’s Facebook photos or tweets.
Here are some tips for helping your young person keep their online information private, professional and safe:
- Facebook – Make sure privacy settings are to Friends Only. Users can create lists of specific people who can see their walls, tagged photos and albums under the custom link. Your child shouldn’t add Facebook friends whom they don’t know well.
- Twitter – If your teenager often tweets private thoughts, or their location, then tweets should be locked so only permitted followers can follow your son or daughter.
- YouTube – Create Unlisted Videos for controlling who sees the content. Your child can also create Private Videos limited to 25 YouTube users.
- Every month, teens should check and update privacy settings on all social media.
- They should never post inappropriate photos or comments to any social media site
If you have a younger child who’s starting to use the Internet, here are some tips to let them enjoy surfing and using today’s technology safely:
- Make sure the computer is in the family or living room, where you can supervise their time online
- Use the Internet together
- Set parental blockers, so your child can’t surf to any inappropriate websites
- Limit your child’s online time
- Make sure you both sign an Internet safety pledge, such as the ones available from Safekids.