In an increasingly digital world, nearly 95% of teens report they have a smartphone — giving them easy, instant access to their favorite social media platforms. The ubiquity of smartphones fuels perpetual online engagement; nearly 50% of U.S. teens report being online “almost constantly.” This percentage has nearly doubled from just three years ago.
Social media has the potential to positively impact lives (connecting users with family and friends, improving access to news and information); but it poses all-too-real risks: cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content, and oversharing of personal information, to name a few. Read on for tips to keep your kids — and yourself — safe in the online world of social media.
Monitor and Protect Your Kids
We’ve assembled a few steps to help your kids use social media safely and responsibly.
In order to guide your kids through safe social media use, you first need to understand the social media platforms they’re using. Some of the most popular among teens include TikTok, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. Click through to each platform for a quick rundown from Mashable). Research these platforms and make yourself an account to experience them first-hand.
Check your kids’ privacy settings.
Once you become familiar with your kids’ preferred social media channels, make sure to regularly check their privacy settings to monitor who they’re able to communicate with. Making sure your kids’ privacy settings are set to the strictest levels will ensure their channels are as secure as possible. (Find more information on TikTok privacy settings here.)
Set screen time rules.
Setting a few social media ground rules will help you monitor your kids’ screen time and prevent social media from becoming too much of a constant in their lives. Limit screen time to a designated time period (for example 7-8 p.m.). Give them a 1-2 hour social media “allowance” to use as they please, or let them log on once they’ve finished their homework. Another tip? Keep phones and computers in your home’s common areas and out of kids’ bedrooms.
Have open dialogue about the dangers of social media.
Most kids don’t realize the extent to which social media can negatively impact their lives. Talk to your kids about the dangers, risks, and consequences of social media. Share with them real-life stories of social media’s dark side, like examples of cyberbullying. Try to make them understand that what goes online stays online; the inappropriate things they say or “like” could negatively impact their lives years down the road.
Monitor and Protect Yourself
The best tool to protect your kids from the dark side of social media is being knowledgeable and protected yourself. After all, adults are equally susceptible to the risks of social media usage. Start with these tips.
Set up passwords — strong passwords.
- Password-protect your device if you have social media apps on your phone.
- Password-protect your social media accounts — with different passwords for each.
- Set up security answers for your social media accounts.
- Remember to log off your social media accounts when you’re finished.
Avoid sharing information and photos that would indicate a specific locale. Don’t share when you’re on vacation (and your house is empty) and don’t share images of your house or your home’s location. Also, it goes without saying that you should never share your personal phone number, credit card, or banking information. Censoring your personal information online and maintaining strong passwords are imperative for reducing the risk of identity theft.
Click with caution.
Avoid spammy and click-baity links. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is; common sense goes a long way when it comes to protecting yourself on social media. In a similar vein, avoid accepting friend requests from people you don’t know. You wouldn’t share personal information with a stranger in real life, would you?
Adjust your privacy settings.
Adjusting privacy settings to the strictest level isn’t just a good idea for kids — it’s the smart move for adults too. Educating yourself on privacy settings beyond the “default” setting will go a long way towards enjoying safe activity online.
Lindow is here for you.
Protecting your family from the dangers of social media might seem daunting in this increasingly digital age, but following a few simple steps can make the online world a safer, more positive place for your whole family. If you have concerns about the risks of participating in our increasingly digital world, contact one of our agents to see if cybersecurity insurance is a fit for you.