Keeping Kids Safe And Secure On Social Media

Social Media

We’re all desperate to be social butterflies these days. With FOMO at an all-time high, no one wants
to be left out. However, whether you’re socially shunning or socially sharing, the reality is, when kids
are involved, it’s always best to be socially aware!

As a full-time marketeer and full-time single parent (to an exuberant offspring that is well and truly
navigating her way through tweendom), I‘m very aware of the pester power that comes along with
social media. The accessibility of these platforms in the form of apps on our phones means it’s easy
to forget that everything we upload is filtering its way into the worldwide web, stored as retrievable
data on servers, often beyond our reach.

I’m a 90s/00s child, so mobile phones, social media, WhatsApp groups were all a foreign language to
me growing up. To be honest, as long as I had a copy of the latest Sugar magazine and my daily dose
of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I was content. Things are changing though, and I’ve realised that
rather than gasp in horrified awe at this change, it’s best that I educate myself and move with the
times.

Recently I’ve realised just how real it’s all getting. When a friend of my daughter’s comes up as a
suggestion on Instagram or she shows me a video they’ve created for their YouTube channel (with
absolutely zero safety restrictions in place) in their quest to follow the trend and become a Vlogger, I
must admit, I do still find it a little uncomfortable. Reports show that 51% of 12-year-olds, 46% of 11-
year-olds and 28% of 10-year-olds now have a social media profile* despite most platforms having a
minimum age of 13.

Although I’m not quite brave enough to allow my daughter to venture into this world just yet (for
many reasons, including age restrictions), I do respect the fact that every parent parents their own
way. So, if you’re not too fussed about age restrictions and would like your child to wholeheartedly
dive into the social world, I’ve put together nine simple tips to keep your little ones safe and secure
online.

I’ve focused on the most popular platforms for kids between the ages of 9-13 years. Don’t forget,
WhatsApp is also a social media platform (see the end of this blog for a list of social media age
restrictions).

1. Keep up the rapport: establish open communication with your child. Make sure they know
to come to you for help, advice or even permission to reply to direct messages.                                                                         2. Keep a close eye on their screen time: there are several useful apps available to help with a
number of things such as monitoring online activity, monitoring screen time and
approving/limiting apps installed. Do some research to figure out which one is best for you.
3. Private accounts: setting Instagram and Facebook accounts to ‘private’ probably goes
without saying but you’ll be surprised how many parents aren’t adhering to this. For
Instagram, head over to settings – privacy – account privacy, then toggle between the two
options. For Facebook, head to settings – privacy settings. Here you’ll find the mecca of
Facebook! You can control everything such as who can send friend requests, whether or not
search engines can link to your account and who can see your posts (this is a vital one, make
sure it isn’t set to public). You can also go to the public posts section to check that
everything is to your liking.
4. Take a look from the outside in: set up a dummy account to double check that your child’s
account is extra secure to those that aren’t connected with them – or get a friend that isn’t
connected with them to check for you.                                                                                                                                                             5. Bedtime means bedtime: set boundaries. Have a ‘screens off’ time agreed.
6. YouTube comments off: switch YouTube comments off and take charge of your child’s
account. Make sure you are uploading and creating all content together. Get involved, you
never know, it could be fun!
7. Monitor WhatsApp groups: if you’re happy for your child to be part of WhatsApp groups,
set the groups up for them and check to see who is in them. Also, keep an eye on any groups
they get invited to.
8. Stay connected: keep an eye on what they’re posting by following/connecting with them.
Being mindful of what pictures your child is posting is especially important. For example,
think before allowing them to upload pictures of them in their swimwear.
9. Geotagging: try to discourage them from geotagging. Regardless of how secure your child’s
account is, you can never be too safe; the less data they reveal about their each and every
movement, the better.

I’ve tried my best to keep this as light-hearted as possible because let’s face it, the world is gloomy
enough! However, when it comes to the internet, I think it’s best to imagine the worst-case scenario
before taking action. It was recently reported that Instagram is the biggest platform for child
grooming, and cases such as that of Breck Bednar are a stark indication that the internet isn’t always
as safe as we may think it is.

Despite the fact that none of us are perfect, we can all be a little smarter when it comes to social
media. And remember: sometimes JOMO can be more satisfying than FOMO!

Happy posting 🙂

*BBC news
FOMO – Fear of Missing Out
JOMO – Joy of Missing Out

UK social media age restriction

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

This blog post was written by Ife Akintoye. Ife is a Senior Social Media and marketing manager for Mott MacDonald she is also a single parent to an 11 year old. 

You can follow Ife on Instagram at: @bellastorm1

 

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