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January 26, 2022

Where Every Family Matters

Yes, You DO Need a Social Media Update Regarding Kids

You shell out a lot for your family's tech pleasures. For good sense and safety, know what your kids are doing online.

A funny thing happens when your kids get older. Something that you don’t really anticipate, and that you didn’t have to worry about when they were just happy to munch on Cheerios. The funny thing is, they grow up so quickly that you're not prepared for that moment when they have a Smartphone and they're smarter about using it than you are. And then there’s this cute little ghost icon that means “Snapchat.” Some parents don’t let their kids touch social media until age 13, but many others obliviously do, i.e., that little ghost is so cute!
   Stay-at-home orders have caused a social media explosion to occur. In the chaos, parents don’t have time to talk to their kids about “digital citizenship,” they’re just trying to navigate the pandemic, i ic and keep kids busy at the same time.
             Kids LOVE being
 online. online. But there are big risks big risks attached like bullying, sharing content content, and of
c course, online preda- tors.

Be a Savvy Parent
Many been-there-done-that parents of teens have navigated this protect-my-kids ground before, but online predators have become craftier. You cannot afford to grow complacent about your child’s online activities. Predators reach out to minors through social networks, gaming platforms and apps. If your child is playing a lot of Xbox or PlayStation, beware of online game chats.

Here’s what you CAN do:

• Have frequent conversations with your kids about the specific ways predators try to befriend kids online

• Tell your kids it is important for them to tell you right away if they feel uncomfortable in a conversation or if they are asked to doing something inappropriate online

 

• Disable all in-app purchases and monitor your credit card for unfamiliar charges

• Monitor time spent on tablets, computers, smartphones or video games. One easy way is to designate a “tech spot” in your house where you can easily monitor use

• Refrain from allowing tech use in bedrooms where you cannot monitor usage

• Limit screen time and take an active role in managing your child’s tech and social media usage

TOP 3 MESSAGING APPS KIDS USE

Be on top of it, know passwords and participate with each other.

TikTok 
Minimum ages is 13. Users create and share short-form videos with friends, or just watch what others create. By default, TikTok accounts are public which allows anyone to view a user’s profile and posted videos. Users CAN change their profile to private, allowing users to approve or deny followers. SAFETY: Talk to your kids about using TikTok. Make sure they know that videos and comments they post affect their reputation and that they should never post anything that may jeopardize their privacy and security. TikTok’s setting menu (click on “Me” in the lower right corner then the three dots at the top left corner) has a “Digital Wellbeing” section that allows parents — or the user — to enable Restricted Mode that “will limit the appearance of content that may not be appropriate for all ages.” To learn more about safety on TikTok, get an in-depth guide at connectsafely.org/TikTok.

Snapchat
Minimum age is 13. A  messaging app that lets users exchange pictures and videos (called Snaps) that are meant to disappear after a chosen amount of seconds after they’re viewed. You should know that there are “Snapstreaks,” (when two users snap back and forth within a 24-hour period for three days in a row; “Snap Maps” that display your location in real time; “Snapchat Story” (a collection of moments in the form of pictures and videos that create a narrative). SAFETY: According to Common Sense Media, the biggest challenge for parents is that there’s no way for you to see your kids’ activity in the app. If you allow your child to have a Snapchat, sit down with him and scroll down to “Who Can …” This is where you can control safety features. To learn more about Snapchat safety, go to internetmatters.org/?s=Snapchat.

Instagram 
Minimum age is 13. Of course you know of Instagram, but you may but not be on top of what you can do to keep your child safe. For instance, unless you change the default for your user to private, anyone can see what the user posts. On Instagram you can share privately, publicly, directly and via Instagram Stories. With Instagram Direct, you can share a photo privately to a group whether you follow them or they follow you. To make your child’s account private, tap the profile button and scroll down to Account Privacy and Private Account and move the slider to the right. The slider will turn blue once the account is private. The other aspect of Instagram you should know about is Instagram Direct (DM). While Instagram is a photo-sharing app, it’s actually a social media platform disguised as a photo app. Most of the talking done on Instagram is through DMs. The problem with DMs is the potential for predators to DM kids. Also prevalent with DM-ing is cyberbullying. SAFETY: Instagram has safety measures meant to better protect young users, but they are easy for kids to work around. For the best control, go to internetmatters.org.

About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this publication and the mom of four amazing kids.