twitter bird santa 3501With the holidays here, kids have more free time – college students will be home for break and this can add up to more online time.

This is a perfect opportunity for everyone to remind our kids of all ages about Internet safety and social networking privacy concerns when it comes to Facebook and Twitter.

Parent’s Guide to Twitter Safety:

  • Sign up for Twilerts with your kids name/names – Get daily reports or weekly.
  • Never post your phone number
  • Use “protect my updates” so only their followers can see them
  • Regularly remind them – even with protection, there are risks – Twitter is a PUBLIC place – what goes online – stays online.
  • Think of a Tattoo – however this one can be changed/manipulated – and possibly not flattering to you!
  • Suggest they use a nickname rather than their full name, also using a generic image for a Avatar rather than their picture.
  • Never Tweet where you are located – specifically where you are.   Don’t tweet your school.
  • Remember that Tweets can Haunt You for Years to Come
  • Only follow people you know in real life (but we know our kids will be following their celebrity favorites, just be sure they are “verified” with the blue check mark next to their profile name).

Facebook Safety Tips:

Talk to your teens about controlling their information. Encourage them to be selective about what they share by customizing the recipients of their posts. Activities on Facebook, including the applications teens use and games they play, can be viewed by others.

Use strict privacy settings. Review all of the options on your privacy settings page. Facebook’s default settings tend to keep information public until a user makes it private (although Facebook is a little stricter with minors’ accounts). “Friends Only” is a good choice for most items, but you can be even more selective.

Pre-approve tags. Choose the settings that allow you to see everything you’ve been tagged in (including photos) before the tag links to your page.

Use notification settings. You can tell Facebook that you want to be notified of any activity performed on your name, including photo tags.

Don’t post your location. Facebook lets users post their location on every post. Teens shouldn’t do this for safety and privacy reasons. Teens can also “tag” their friends’ location but you can prevent anyone from tagging your location in the How Tags Work section.

Set rules about what’s appropriate to post. No sexy photos, no drinking photos, no photos of them doing something that could hurt them in the future. Teens also need to be thoughtful about their status updates, wall posts, and comments on friends’ posts. Remind them that once they post something, it’s out of their hands.

If in doubt, take it out. Use the “Remove Post” button to take down risky posts.

Encourage teens to self-reflect before they self-reveal. Teens are very much in the moment and are likely to post something they didn’t really mean. Work with them on curbing that impulse. Teach them to ask themselves why they’re posting something, who will be able to read it, and whether it could be misunderstood or used against them later.

Watch out for ads. There are tons of ads on Facebook, and most major companies have profile pages. Marketers actively use Facebook to target advertising to your teen.

Create your own page. The best way to learn the ins and outs of Facebook is to create your own page. A great way to start talking to your teens about their Facebook experience is to ask them to help you create your own page.

“Friend” younger teens. If your kids are in middle school, it may be a sound policy to know what they’re posting, since teens that age don’t necessarily understand that they’re creating a digital footprint. Keep in mind that kids can block you from seeing things, so check in with them, too.

Talk to your high school-aged teens about whether they’re comfortable letting you “friend” them. Many will be. But if you are your teen’s friend, don’t fill her page with comments, and don’t “friend” her friends. Many parents say Facebook is the only way they know what’s going on in their teens’ life, so tread cautiously.

Choose your battles. You’ll see the good, the bad, and the truly unfathomable. If you don’t want your teens to unfriend you, don’t ask them about every transgression. Keep it general.

Be a model friend. Remember that your teens can see what you post, too. Model good behavior for your teens, and keep your own digital footprint clean.


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Happy Holidays!