It is inevitable that your child will dive into the world of social media at some point or another. Today, more than 60 percent of American teens have at least one social media account. Being online is a great way to keep in touch with friends and stay up to date on current events. It is important, however, that you are aware that there are people out there who can take advantage of your child by using their information to bully them, steal their identity, or begin an inappropriate relationship.
As a parent, you can help protect your teen from these online dangers by following these six safety tips:
1. Keep your personal information personal. Ask them to keep their profile private so that only family and people you know see photos, posts, important dates, and other information.
2. Don't talk to strangers. Encourage them to follow the ancient "don't talk to strangers" rule that we all learned as toddlers. Never allow them to accept friend requests from people they don't know.
3. Don't post anything you wouldn't want your grandma to see. Encourage them to use their judgment when taking photos and videos. Only allow them to publish photos and videos that don't jeopardize their safety or their integrity.
4. Protect privacy. Make sure they're not posting personal and details. This includes phone numbers, home address, Social Security number, the name of their school, and more.
5. Don't share your password. Make sure they choose a strong password that can't be guessed, and that they change it every three months. Make sure that they are the only ones that can access their account to ensure that they have full control over what's being posted.
6. Have a conversation. Ask them to let you know if they've received messages from a stranger, or from someone at school who is teasing, harassing, or threatening them. Those could be signs of cyber-bullying or even a sexual predator, and it's important for you to remain in the know.
Get additional online safety tips, and other relevant information on OnGuardOnline.gov.
Source: "6 Tips to Keeping Teens Safe on Social Media." OnGuardOnline.gov. Accessed 10/3/2013.