With the sheer volume of shareable content available these days, our children are being introduced to the world of social media at a shockingly young age.
While the minimum age to register for a Facebook account is 13 years old, more than 5 million children under age 10 have a Facebook account.
Even more surprising? Only 69 percent of parents are friends with their kids on Facebook.
Many of today’s teens may not remember or know a world without social media and are, perhaps, more concerned with sharing their latest selfie than safeguarding private information.
Unfortunately, some seemingly harmless social media habits can be putting you, your home or family at risk. Below is a list of some of the more common social media practices that can inconspicuously put you at risk.
Sharing Vacation Plans
We all get excited about vacation — and your teen is no exception.
Whether they’re publicly counting down the days to your next family trip or posting selfies from the beach, your teen is broadcasting to would-be burglars of impending plans or that you aren’t home.
Instead of putting a ban on all vacation sharing, ask your child to stock up their favorite photos from the trip and post them upon your return.
This will allow them to capture moments and share them with friends (and, let’s be honest, count how many “likes” they can get) without broadcasting your vacant home.
If they MUST share their morning latte or outfit of the day, have them omit tagging a location or mentioning the out-of-town status in the caption.
Geotagging Your Exact Location
Did you know social media sites assign your current location to posts and photos unless you change your privacy settings?
By not disabling this feature on your teen’s (and your) social media accounts, any time they post from home, they are sharing your home’s location with anyone who cares to look.
Additionally, if they post frequently from routine places, like school, the gym, or a friend’s house, they are allowing criminals to establish not only their daily habits and routines, but also their exact location, making them a walking target to predators wherever they go.
Have your child go into their privacy settings on each social media site (and their smartphone) and disable geotagging from posts and photos to safeguard their location moving forward.
If you are worried about past posts that contain your location, consider installing a home security system for additional peace of mind.
Limit Public Posting
While there are certainly times and instances that a public post can be valuable on social media, your teen should not be posting the bulk of their social media activity for the world to see.
Become familiar with the privacy settings for each social media platform your kids utilize, and sit down with them to adjust and customize settings for each.
Additionally, create guidelines and expectations for your teen’s social media use — and monitor their accounts to ensure they are adhering to them.
Need help? Start with these five things you should never share online and customize from there.
Too Much Privacy
Parents walk a fine line with their teens when it comes to keeping them safe and giving them independence.
When it comes to social media, set some ground rules with your teen, like limiting daily access to their social media accounts.
You should always have the passwords to their accounts and access to view any public and private messages or posts.
Your teens should not be sharing or posting anything on social media that they would not say in front of you.
Whether you check it daily or somewhere in between, do periodic checks of their accounts for red flags, including:
- Bullying (both received and given)
- Suspicious friend activity/requests (your teen should personally know everyone on their friends list)
- Inappropriate content (safeguard their future by not allowing photos they would not want future employers to see)