Inappropriate image sharing, cyberbullying and chatroom grooming; these are just a few of the serious issues circulating the media and flooding the minds of concerned parents. Unfortunately it’s not possible to travel back two decades, to a time when a parents only had to contend with their child’s wellbeing in the real world. The birth of the internet has brought with it an abundance of child safety issues that need tackling by parents in order to keep kids safe on the net.
With a little bit of time and research, keeping tabs on your child’s online presence will seem less overwhelming. Because there are so many social media platforms and issues to consider, we’ve pointed out a few below…
Topics you should discuss with your children;
- Talking to strangers
- Privacy settings
- Viruses/ Hacking
- Inappropriate websites
It is also important to remind your children to think before they post anything online, if they wouldn’t say it to you at the dinner table, then they probably shouldn’t be posting it online.
A great app aimed at battling peer pressure is ‘Zipit’. Created by Childline, the app is packed with brilliant information and comebacks for teens to send if they start to feel uncomfortable talking online. The app is completely free and encourages children to post humorous content rather than anything inappropriate.
Have a Conversation
A good tip for keeping your child safe is making sure you have regular conversations with them – educate early and often. You don’t have to be a social media expert to teach them the right and wrong things to be posting online. The danger is that many teens have grown up with the internet so they’re actually unable to distinguish between appropriate online and offline behaviour.
Perhaps you could even ask them to teach you how to set up your own social media profiles so that way you can better understand the ways in which they’re using the site.
Use Monitoring Software
Consider using software to track and monitor your child’s search history and devices. Should you choose to go down this route, have a look at;
- Teensafe – Observe social activity
- Zift – Track internet habits
Block Unsuitable Websites
Consider blocking inappropriate websites using the various tools available online. Open DNS is a free software which enables parents to preconfigure settings to protect their kids across the internet.
Friend your Kids
You could always attempt to befriend your children on Facebook etc. Understandably, this does not work in all cases, but if you can and reassure your child that you won’t be posting anything that might embarrass them online, then this could work so you can keep a close eye on them!
Popular Social Media Sites
Understanding the social media sites that your child is using is very important. There are obviously hundreds of sites and apps available to your child but the ones outlined below are a few of the most popular.
The recommended age for children using social media is about 13 years old, but it is up to you to decide whether or not your child is ready enter the realms of social media and deal with all the issues surrounding it.
Have a look at Facebook’s family safety centre, where you will find detailed information about how to guide your child through using the social network safely and how to ensure their privacy settings are set accordingly.
A micro-blogging site, Twitter can contain inappropriate links, images and videos, and can be shared publicly or to a chosen group privately. Access Twitter’s help centre to learn about protecting your children’s Tweets.
Snapchat allows users to send photo and videos that disappear within seconds. There is a danger here for inappropriate images to be sent as users believe the image will only flash on the screen for a matter of moments. However, most smart phones have the ability to print screen and share it with others.
An instant messaging service that also allows photo sharing. Read WhatsApp information on how to keep safe online.
Instagram Users can post photos and have their followers comment. Using hashtags, your child can share experiences, thoughts or memories with an online community. You can follow friends, family, strangers, celebrities and even companies on Instagram. Read Instagram information on how to keep safe online.