Helping parents and teachers to empower their children to protect themselves online

Safely Social

Social media can be a minefield for parents. From Snapchat to Facebook, and Instagram to Tumblr, it can be hard to keep track of what platform does what, and often to keep tabs on which of these platforms your child is utilising.

Whether you’re at the stage of considering allowing your child on social media, the stage of catching up with what your child is doing on social media, or even if your child being on a social network is a long way off, our latest eBook chapter is a must-read. Some of our general tips are summarised below, but if you want to read more detailed and invaluable tips on the most popular platforms amongst Irish kids, as well as tips on how to introduce and manage social media usage in your home, make sure you sign up here.

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  • Most social network sites comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and rather than collecting verifiable consent from parents for kids under 13, they simply restrict usage to those over 13 to avoid the issue. Most kids lie about their age to get around this when joining a platform
  • Respect on social media is a fundamental matter. There is often a disconnection for kids between real life and their digital world, which can cause them to do things online that they would never do in real life. Explaining to your child that they should act on social media as they do in real life is vital, with respect and dignity
  • It’s vital to speak to your child before they join any social media sites, and talk about the potential risks. Educate them about responsible usage, what to do if they encounter any issues and discuss what platform might suit them best. We would always recommend that they start their social media journey with a child-friendly app, which has appropriate safety settings and features
  • Familiarise yourself with the platform that your child is joining, and know its features and capabilities. Then sit down with your child to set up their profile, ensure that it is set to private so they are not visible to strangers, and that their profile does not contain any overly personal information which could leave them vulnerable
  • Sit down regularly with your child for them to show you around their profiles. This empowers them to work with you towards a safer social media experience as opposed to against you. Try not to have a set time and day that you do it, as you run the risk of your child removing content/settings/friends that they don’t want you to see if they know that you always check at a specific time
  • Keep track of your child’s password. You should be able to check it whenever you feel the need to, and a condition of them being on any social networks should be that they inform you of any password changes
  • Have a cut-off time for social media and general phone use in the evening. The Yale Medical Group recommends that all devices are switched off at least an hour before bedtime, to avoid the blue light technology interfering with your child’s sleep patterns and even their alertness the following day

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