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Using Social Media Safely

Release Date: May 12, 2020

Due to current telework and remote learning environments, many Americans—including teens and preteens—are spending more time at home, and online, than usual. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube are just a few of the many available social networking sites where users share links, play games, and post text, photos, and videos. However, these sites are not all fun and games. Below are some social media privacy and safety tips; take time to talk to your children about online risks. 

Family Safety Tips for Using Social Media

Children who spend time on social networks are at risk of becoming victims of online predators, cyberbullying, or exposure to inappropriate content. To help ensure your children stay safe online, you can:

  • Insist that your children never give out personal information or plan a face-to-face meeting with anyone they meet online.
  • Place the computer in a common area of your home to monitor use and enforce rules for when, how long, and in what way it can be used.
  • Review your child’s online profiles regularly. Remove any personal or identifying information.
  • Review the profiles of your children’s friends and the links that they are following.
  • Remind your children that what you post on the Internet stays there forever.
  • Ensure your children use the most restrictive privacy settings available on the social networking sites where they have a personal profile.
  • Encourage your kids to tell an adult if they feel threatened by someone or feel uncomfortable because of something online.

Tips for Managing Your Social Media Profile

The Internet is an open book, and many of the sites we think are private and safe from outside eyes may not be. Here are some tips for keeping your and your family’s cyber life secure and private:

  • View the Internet as a novel, not a diary. Make sure you are comfortable with anyone seeing the information you put online, even if you believe the content to be behind security features.
  • Expect that people you have never met will find your profiles. If you want the information to be private or restricted to a small, select group of people, the Internet is probably not the best forum.
  • Be careful what you advertise. With an increasing amount of personal information available online, it is very easy to track down addresses, phone numbers, and birth dates.
  • Realize that you cannot take back what you post. Once something is published online, it is available to other people and to search engines.
  • Think about the implications before you post information. Before posting something online, determine what value it provides and let your common sense guide you.

Last Updated: 05/13/2020
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