Safe social networking

How can I support my child to be safe on social networks?

Social networks can be a great experience for your kids and there are a number of ways that you can play a part in helping them enjoy their benefits.

These include:

  • Staying involved

    Establish your own account on the sites they use and learn about the privacy settings. Don't be intimidated by new technologies – understanding how these sites work may help you feel more comfortable with your kids exploring these spaces.

  • Checking ‘terms of use’

    Terms of use for each social media service covers the rules for using the site, the type of content that can be posted and any age requirements. Read these to your child to make sure they understand what is expected of them.

  • Being aware of age guidelines

    It is useful to consider whether you are comfortable with the content and the potential for contact with others including teens and adults on each site. Consider whether your child is socially ready to manage contacts and look out for the age ratings set by app stores to help identify age suitable content.

  • Setting rules

    Make sure your child knows what information they can share or post and encourage them to tell you before they join new networks and before they post any personal information, including their full name, address or school.

  • Establishing safe personal profiles

    Ensure they don’t put too much personal information online. Help them create user names or IDs that do not communicate gender, age, name or location and are not sexually provocative.

  • Establishing privacy

    Ensure your child’s account is set to the strongest privacy setting so only their circle of friends can view their information, tag them in a photograph or share posts. Many sites have privacy protection information and safety tips.

  • Encouraging thinking first

    Encourage your kids to think before they put anything online, even among trusted friends and remind them that once shared, information and photos can be difficult or impossible to remove and may have a long-term impact on their digital reputation.

  • Promoting respectful communication

    Advise your child to stay respectful and be nice online and to avoid responding to any negative messages and report any they receive to you or another trusted adult.

  • Checking review sites

    The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner has prepared a guide to popular social sites and apps. NetAware (UK) and Commonsense Media are also useful sites.

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What precautions can my kids take on these sites?

There are number of precautions that you should educate and remind your kids about when it comes to social networking.

These include:

  • Being careful in making online friends

    Remind your kids to be careful when making new friends online as people may not be who they say they are.

  • Not meeting strangers

    Alert your child to the dangers of meeting in person someone they’ve been talking to online. Advise them to never arrange to meet an online friend unless a trusted adult is with them and it is during the day and in a public space.

  • Not revealing their location online

    Location-based services enable social networking users to report their physical location to other users by ‘checking in' and reporting their friends' locations. Many have location-based functions turned on by default. Help your child review their settings and block or limit location-based information as it can be highly risky.

  • Reporting cyberbullying

    If your child is the target of cyberbullying behaviour or inappropriate content, help them to report it to the social networking site. If the social media service fails to remove serious cyberbullying material, make a complaint to the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner.

  • Using filters

    Consider using filters to help manage your child's online access.

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How can I gain my child’s trust with social networking?

Have open conversations and reassure them. Let them know that you will not deny them access to the internet if they report feeling uncomfortable or unsafe when online – this is a very real concern for children that may stop them from communicating with you openly.

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