Pew Research Center statistics indicate that as of 2015, 24% of American teens have a strong presence on social media sites, thanks to the prevalence of mobile devices.
About 92% of American teenagers use the Internet daily. Of the online teens, 71% of kids between the ages of 13 and 17 use Facebook. While Facebook may be the most widely known social media sites, numerous other options exist, and all of them can have potential risks.
Social Media Security: Protecting Privacy
Social media involves online interactions between Internet users. By using these platforms, people interact with each other, share information, and upload pictures. Examples of different social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
New social media sites come into existence regularly, so the landscape continues to evolve. People use it to connect with friends and family, meet new people, share information, share photos and videos, and for entertainment.
When used correctly, these social media sites can be an effective way to engage with others and maintain connections. On the other hand, social media sites can be dangerous, too–especially for children and teens.
Social media involves a number of risks for people of all ages. Children can be especially vulnerable to these dangers. While it’s enjoyable to communicate with others online, the anonymity involved with these interactions can be problematic.
Child predators often troll these websites in search of victims. Because children often don’t understand these dangers, they may make mistakes in their Internet conduct.
Uploading personal pictures online can be risky, especially suggestive photos. Once a photo is uploaded online, it’s impossible to delete its presence completely. Anyone could have access to a photo.
Child predators may pose as peers to entice kids into interacting with them. A trusting child may share personal information such as an address, giving a predator the means of in-person contact.
- Social Media Guide (PDF)
Teaching Kids Internet Safety
Any child who spends time on the Internet needs to learn about safety and dangers involved with this connectivity. Parents should explain the wide audience involved with the Internet to ensure that children understand how it works.
For example, a child might think that uploading a photo onto a social media sites only involves few group of people.
However, if the child’s privacy settings are not configured correctly, the photo could be accessible to a large number of people. Children should never share personal information with anyone online.
Teach children not to interact with people online who they do not know in person. Here are some additional articles you can read about keeping your kids safe online.
- Internet Safety (PDF)
To maintain ongoing safety, parents must monitor and supervise children’s Internet activities. Keep computers in common areas of the house, and supervise online time.
Tell children that you will be checking their Internet history from time to time to ensure their safety. When kids access the Internet through mobile devices, insist on having access to the devices periodically to monitor activity. Some parents utilize parental controls on computers to limit children’s activities on the Internet.
These programs will allow you to restrict web browsers from visiting certain types of websites. For example, websites with adult content could be placed on a restricted list so children can’t access these websites.
Some programs also institute special tracking features and timers to ensure that children follow the time limits for computer usage.
Tell children that anytime they feel uncomfortable interacting with someone online, encourage them to come to you for help. Here are additional articles you will find helpful in guiding your kids to safe access to the Internet.
- Internet Safety Toolkit (PDF)
- Parenting Online (PDF)