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Aug 05, 2014

If you grew up with a rotary phone in your house, it might be difficult for you to appreciate how ubiquitous social media is in the lives of children these days.

For many teenagers, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are their primary means of communicating with peers. They chat, share, and exchange pictures, all through social media sites.

While this new technology can have many benefits, there are also many dangers. Reckless sharing of information could put your child at risk for identity theft, for example. Social media also makes it easier for predators and fraudsters to take advantage of a trusting child.

But if you teach your child how to be safe on social media, and set strict guidelines for them to follow, then you’ll be able to avoid most of these dangers. Here are 5 tips that can help keep your entire family safer on social media:

1.     Enforce an age limit

Your kids will probably be asking to use social media well before they become teenagers, but there really isn’t any reason why a pre-teen needs to be on Facebook. The exact age you pick is up to you and your family, but 13 is probably a good age to start.

2.     Use private settings

The default settings for social media sites aren’t the very secure. Be sure to have your child manually set their social media accounts to “private.” This means, basically, that their information and photos will only be shared with a select few.

3.     Know what sites your kids visit

Social media safety is connected to internet safety as a whole. Ask what sites your child visits, and then take the time to verify them yourself.

4.     Ask who your kid’s online friends are

Since it’s so easy for people to create fake profiles online, you should always keep tabs on who your kid’s online friends are. Here’s a good rule: your kids should only be “friends” with people they know in real life.

5.     Set strict rules for sharing photos

Photo sharing is a minefield of potential problems for your kids. They should know that posting online is permanent, and even if they delete a photo, there’s no way of knowing if someone else has grabbed it. An easy guideline for your kids to follow is that they should never post a photo that they wouldn’t be comfortable with you seeing first.

As long as you keep an open line of communication with your child, and show an interest in what they’re doing online, there’s no reason why they can’t have a safe and positive social media experience

photo credit: IntelFreePress via photopin cc

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