How to keep your kids safe on social media

Last updated: Apr 29th, 2020

Social media and managing our children’s use of it has proven to be a monumental parenting challenge for us all – particularly as we ourselves are having to ‘learn on the job’ so to speak.

Then you throw into the mix this curve ball chapter of our lives, where social media is proving to be an absolute lifeline to us all in terms of engaging and communicating with friends, family and the wider world – more than ever before we need to be ‘on it.’

Our children have access to many different social media groups where they’re often communicating with school friends and out of school activity circles. For our children, we as parents and guardians need to find a way to embrace these social media circles while ensuring our children are using them safely.

Yes we’re Mums, Dads and Guardians – but for now we have another string to our bow as ‘Social Media Managers.’

Time to arm ourselves with our new job description and a robust list of the top 5 must do’s…

1. Dependent on their age, agree with your child the social media accounts you are happy for them to have. Keep an open dialogue on this so they feel they can share and challenge your opinions openly. Debate is a healthy but ensure you are well educated so you can be firm on your stance on this. I’m sure there are many of us who are unaware of the minimum age restrictions for using various social media platforms.There’s a great visual aid created by Internet Matters that will help guide you through the minimum age minefield.

2. If your child is under a certain age it’s probably best to set up their phone/tablet so that when they visit the app store to download the app, whether on google play or the apple store they have to request permission from you. You will receive a notification to your device that they are requesting your permission and once you’ve granted it the download will commence. Better to be safe than sorry.

3. You need to check your child’s privacy settings – they may not be fully aware of the importance of this but its setting these up appropriately that will put a fence around them in terms of who can engage and interact with them. Again Internet Matters have come up with a great go to guide to help you achieve this.

4. Make sure they don’t publically share content that gives away information pertaining to where they live, what school they go to, their age etc. This can often be done innocently but by doing so it gives people who may not have appropriate intentions the ability to target users of a certain age or geographical location.

5. It sounds simple and makes common sense, but make sure they are only friends with friends. By that we mean ‘real’ friends. Social media has the potential to make your child feel extremely popular and the temptation to accept friend requests from people who they are loosely connected with will be very real. The need to know that the click of a button from someone asking to be your friend and a click of acceptance of this in return is not representative of friendship in the real world. This really is one to bring home to them.

So that’s the essentials covered! We hope this quick go to guide helps children and parents communicate safely from afar during these challenging times.