A Parents’ Guide To Social Media

Parents’ guide to social media

As a parent, there is always something to worry about when it comes to your children. It seems this is even more so with the emergence of social media and messaging apps. To prepare teenagers for the dangers of such technology use, it is sensible to discover as much as possible about what social media and apps your teens are using. Discover the latest trends here and how you can safeguard children that use them.

Facebook

Children under the age of 13 are not permitted to have a Facebook page, in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), but without requesting physical proof, there is little that Facebook can do if a child lies about their age to sign up. It is therefore your responsibility to ensure that your child does not sign up for an account before they are thirteen, if at all. Facebook is a great way for people of all ages to get in touch with long lost friends and relatives, but for younger kids this will most likely not apply owing to their age. Facebook was perhaps popular as teens could upload their selfies and photos of exciting activities they have been doing. With the dawn of snapchat and Instagram, however, teens are turning to these image-centred apps instead, leaving Facebook to much older users. Yet, if your child is on Facebook, monitor who they are contacting and being contacted by as anybody can pretend to be somebody else. If you feel it necessary, ensure you have the password to their account so you can check at any time activity on their account. Warn your teen of the dangers of conversing with strangers and tell them to immediately block anyone who contacts them that they do not already now.

Instagram

This is a photo editing and posting app that allows users to post their images on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Anyone can follow another Instagram profile unless that profile has been set to private. With the images appearing simultaneously on different platforms, which may not be private, the danger is that anybody can see them and may try to use those images, or to contact the profile user. There are Instagram Edit Profile options which allow you to delete or edit your profile on a PC in case you have lost your ‘phone and don’t want anyone who finds your phone to access your account. This is also useful if you just can’t access your cell at that moment, but want to edit it using a PC.

Snapchat

Again, in compliance with COPPA, children under the age of 13 are not permitted to have a Snapchat account, but as with Facebook, a child can lie about their age when setting up their account. The premise of Snapchat is that you can take a photo, send it to your friends and it will only exist for up to ten seconds after it has been viewed. However, this doesn’t stop someone else  copying this image and saving it. As an image-based app, it has the danger of allowing adults or children to send inappropriate images that will disappear, leaving little evidence. There has been some controversy over the new Snap Map feature which shows your location. This can be disabled however. Images on Snapchat can only be shared between friends, and not publicly, so ensure your child knows not to add anyone they don’t know to their group, and also to let you know if anyone they don’t know has tried to contact them.