Children and Online Privacy
All Apps have an Age Rating. Apps such as Instagram and Snapchat list their Age Rating as Parental Guidance. Children should adhere to the Age Ratings of Apps. Often parents may say “but the rest of the class using the App”. Parents can feel pressured in allowing their chaild to have access to an App. Stick to the Age Rating, and make sure your children stick to it. There is no way for an App to enforce an Age Rating. Just because a child has turned 13, sometimes doesn’t mean you have to let them have an online social media account. If you feel they are not ready yet, then don’t permit them to open one. Ensure you have Parental Controls on all the devices the children access.
Tips for Parents
- Make sure privacy settings are set correctly to protect your child’s and your own personal information from strangers. If the settings are set up incorrectly, people may have access photos or personal information without having to be a friend/follower.
- Consider using filtering software to monitor your child’s usage of social media such as Google Family Link or activate Screen Time on Apple devices.
- Create ground rules or a social media contract before your child starts using any Social Media platform with specific predefined punishments for breach of any such rules that are set out so your child knows there are consequences to their behaviour.
- Connect with your child on the social media platform they are using and get to know their habits online. Create your own profile and add them as a friend or at least follow them to access the content being posted. Have a look at their profile to check that they aren’t giving out too much personal information or posting inappropriate photos/videos. Don’t wait until they post something to check them, have a look to see what they are up to online every so often.
- If you don’t want to have to create a profile on the social media platform your child is using make sure to sit down, discuss what they are doing online.
- It is really important to go through their friends/followers list to see who they are interacting with online.
- Have a central location for smart phones, tablets and laptops. A child should not be permitted to bring these items to their bedroom unsupervised.
- Teach your child to keep their passwords and security questions secret and not give them to anyone else. Don’t permit your child have a social media profile unless you have the password and full access to their account.
Content Posted Online Could End Up Anywhere
- Ideally you wouldn’t let your children post any images of themselves online but this is virtually impossible to avoid. Make sure you know what images they are sharing online. Approve images they want to post before they are shared.
- Limit a child’s time spent online and using social media get them to put their devices down and go outside. Set a good example. If you are spending every spare minute on social media, then you can’t expect your child not to.
- Teach your child to respect themselves and others online. Don’t let them become a target by posting to much personal information or inappropriate content; get them to think about the potential consequences to their reputation before they post anything.
- Sit down and talk to your children about dangers online. Don’t expect a child to automatically know the do’s and don’ts of social media. Don’t assume their teacher or friends will teach them either. It is your responsibility to teach them how to safely use social media.
- If your child is unlucky enough to have a bad experience online don’t give out to them, encourage them to be comfortable enough to tell you or another appropriate adult and always report it to the authorities and the service provider.