Social Media is great – used correctly it’s a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, to meet like minded people and even to follow your favourite celebrities and brands.
But there’s a different side to social media, the side that I don’t want my children to experience but that I’m having to consider now that Miss Frugal is coming to the age where she is asking if she can have her own Facebook and twitter account.
Lots of her friends already have them but I’m reluctant for many reasons not least because the age restrictions are there for a reason and to join, I would have to allow her to lie about her age which means that the targeted advertising on both networks will think she’s older than she is!
She turns 13 this year which means that it’s going to happen at some point in the near future so we’ve been preparing a little bit by letting her have own YouTube and Instagram accounts and beginning to talk to her about the do’s and don’ts of how to behave on social media.
And if you’re thinking that you’re children are too young for Twitter and Facebook then it might be worth considering that YouTube is also a Social Media platform as well as many games that younger children can play on like MovieStarPlanet where online chat is allowed.
These are the things that we’ve talked about recently to make sure that she stays safe online:
1. Any accounts will be set up by me so I am fully aware of the password and no changes to this can be made. I need to know about any social apps that she downloads before she does anything so I can check it out, Google it and read any reviews before I decide if she’s allowed.
2. Accounts will be set to private so any followers need to verified by me (unless she goes to school with them) before being accepted.
3. If there’s anyone that she wants to follow who is not personally known to her then she needs to run it by me before she follows. I then check the account and decide if it’s appropriate.
4. She must never disclose any personal information on her accounts – no age, no location and no other personal info. This includes little things like posting photos of her in her school uniform and making sure location services is turned off. Even though her accounts are private, you just never know on social media so it’s always better to be safe.
5. No being mean to other people in any way, even if she thinks it’s a joke. What one person thinks is funny could upset someone and there is no way I want her involved in anything like that.
6. No sharing photos of her friends without with them checking first and even then it’s not always appropriate. For example, on Instagram she isn’t allowed to share photos of people who aren’t on Instagram at all even if they say it’s OK.
7. She needs to understand that when something is posted on social media then it’s out there and can’t always be taken back. Even deleting something won’t help if someone has taken a screen shot!
8. A photo, private message or a DM isn’t always private – it just takes one person to share the contents of the message and everyone knows about it! She knows not to share anything in a message that she wouldn’t share publicly.
9. Because of the nature of sharing on social media, it’s entirely possible that a post she makes now can reach half way round the world and certainly around the people in her school in a very short space of time.
10. We’ve talked a lot about what she should do if someone ever makes her feel uncomfortable in any way – be it bullying, sharing inappropriate things or anything else at all, no matter how small she may think it is. She knows she can come to me about anything.
I know I said 10 Social Media lessons but actually, I thought of a few more while I was writing them so here’s a few more quick ones for you….
11. There’s an unfollow button – don’t be afraid to use it.
12. Not everyone is who they say they are!
13. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.
14. Read what you’ve written twice before hitting enter and always think carefully about whether it’s OK to post.
15. Never click on an advert or any other links.
I’m confident that she understands my rules and that she’ll stick to them but I won’t be leaving it to chance and she is fully aware that I’ll be checking up on her from time to time.
Can you think of anything else?
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