As a parent, the safety of our kids is going to be one of the most bothering concerns of our lives. And in a time of internet and social media, that bother has increased manifold. Provided that your child has somehow survived the social media virus till date, we are sure the topic must have come up time and again. Having to grow up with an entire group of people – friends as well as schoolmates, who are constantly active on your device, is bound to make your kid succumb to the pressure and take the decision of opening a social media account.
We even have schools today sharing individual accomplishments on social media platforms which is bound to make you see the need of letting your child roam free and wild in the alleys of internet (or as well call it FOMO), something which you might not have considered till date. The honest truth is social media is as necessary as it is damned. And if you are not an active user, you might not totally get what the hullabaloo is about. And here, we are going to talk about those valid concerns of yours along with how you can keep your child safe and make sure their social media experience is as secure as it can be. Read on the guide and do not forget to comment your questions in the section below.
Basics of Social Media
You may feel like the social media has its own language and concepts that one can not wrap their head around without a textbook in one hand and laptop in other, but that is not entirely true. Almost all social media websites follow not same but similar patterns and terminology. And of course then there are the unsaid rules of internet which should be followed everywhere. We have listed some of such rules:
No Deleting Off Internet
Our first rule is incredibly important to understand for beginners. Remember once something is on the internet, it can never be permanently deleted. Be it a picture you posted, a comment you did, a hashtag you used, a video you shared, a selfie on Snapchat – even after you delete the post or the snap or the tweet, the digital remains remain somewhere encrypted in some data bank. You might not want able to see it or access it, but somewhere that post and its record exists, filed away under your username. Deleting off does not make things go away once they are on the internet.
Along with that, you may also note that your username exists in strict correlation to you. It might be your phone number or mail ID, but once you make an account somewhere, you get associated with it. Mostly, websites will have recorded your IP address which means that whatever you are saying through your account is recorded online. And if you are trolling someone using a different username or a new mail ID, people can still track you down by your IP and you won’t stay safe just by deleting your post or even your account. It all comes back to you.
Controlled Outflow of Information
You can easily take a stock of the information you are sharing and limit it to your friends or for yourself only. Sure you can put out different pieces of information like your location or your playlist – but you do not have to. In fact in most cases we would recommend never to share your location through pictures. Simply use the Settings of your network and turn the location settings off (or any other equivalent depending on the platform).
This is one great way to ensure your safety on the internet. Remember that your location once shared can be accessed by strangers who would thus know which school you go to, or where you live. Some camera apps also have locations saved in them whenever you click a picture. You should turn off location services in all such apps making sure that your location while taking that photograph stays disclosed. Also, make sure that your pictures or the backgrounds do not contain anything which can then be traced back to you. If such photographs which can be identified are shared publicly, the information contained in them is revealed to the world at large.
Beware of Hashtags
Hashtags are everywhere. From shows on TV channels to celebrity trends, hashtags are an incredible way to collect all posts related to a trending topic on one space. You can choose a subject, and search for the relevant hashtag, and voila – everything that everyone has to say about that certain topic is now available for you. Many a times hashtags become a live way of providing feedbacks or even holding conversations between friends. You can come across new people on these hashtag trends, some of which you might take a liking to, others not much. Point being hashtags can easily be used to abuse or bully even. It is easier to target people using hashtags. And if your pictures are shared with locations, using hashtags, you are easily trackable by strangers. One has to remember that hashtags have to be used with utmost responsibility, and online trolls have to be ignored.
How to keep kids safe
We are sure reading the above points have made you pretty scared about the social media networks, but fear not. This world sure has its pros, which will outweigh these cons, as you have to maintain a certain kind of precaution everywhere. You can use different tools and apps which will make your kids safer on their social media excursion.
Private Accounts are a Must
Strangers can stumble across your profile if you have not made sure your account is private. On all different social media platforms one can make their account private, which will assure that less and less strangers are able to find one. Moreover, you can control who can access your posts/pictures/videos, and we would strongly recommend that you keep the least amount of information accessible on the profile. It is also necessary to make your children understand that before accepting other people as friends online, they have to know them to some extent in the physical form like they have met the person in school or other places. A certain form of validation comes from having too many people on your friend list, but it can lead to unknowns piling up in your profile, which is no good sign.
Your Location is Not to be Given Away
We know we have already talked about locations and their importance, but it is extremely important for you to make sure your children understand the effect it might have in their lives. Most of the apps today would ask you whilst installing if you are comfortable in sharing your location. And this should be replied in the form of a no, barring some extreme cases. Most social media networks can let you share your location when you are sharing your posts, and sometimes people are not even aware of this feature, but it is something which gives away your position instantly. So, before putting posts and other information out, do check your location settings, as having your most frequented locations on display can result in rather disastrous outcomes.
Cameras & Selfies
Again, make sure your pictures do not lead predators to information about you that you did not intend to share in the first place. Even if your account is set on private, having a picture that for example showcases your school in background as your profile picture means you are letting everybody know where you study. Cases of people clicking unpermitted pictures and videos are everywhere, so make sure your kid is educated enough to click pictures of such predators and go, talk to relevant authorities, as well as you.
We understand that throwing your kids in this whirlwind of social media can be a scary decision, but it is important for their social growth. The points we assimilated above are an effort to provide you with a route following which you might be able to keep them safer. Let us know in comments below what other guidelines you follow to make sure your children are safe on internet.