Safety tips for children's social media use

Jan. 29, 2018 at 5:57 p.m.
Updated Jan. 29, 2018 at 6:03 p.m.

Sherry Vafa is an assistant professor of educational technology in the UHV School of Education, Health Professions and Human Development.

Sherry Vafa is an assistant professor of educational technology in the UHV School of Education, Health Professions and Human Development.   Contributed Photo for The Victoria Advocate

Sherry Vafa

Children as young as 10 already are using many social media applications.

Popular platforms like Facebook and Snapchat are commonly used throughout a teen's day. According to a 2015 Pew Research study, 88 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 have access to a cellphone, and 91 percent of teens occasionally go online using a mobile device.

Children's use of social media to connect with friends and family and to explore games, apps, music and videos is an important part of their social development. However, it is imperative that parents be more involved and educate their children on how to stay safe while using and exploring different social media apps.

Crime Stoppers recommends the following safeguards for parents to follow:

It is important for children to know that any content posted online is never private and will remain online forever. Everyone needs to read the terms and agreements of sites diligently before downloading any apps. Many social media apps can share or even sell the content posted on their sites. The highest privacy settings also should be used at all times. Location settings should be turned off for all social media games and camera use.

The most important advice is to teach children never to accept friend requests from strangers or share any personal information such as a home address, phone number or school location. Children should report any behavior that makes them uncomfortable.

Parents should actively monitor their child's accounts to be sure they have implemented all the safeguards.

They also should research any unknown apps and games, and adhere to age requirements.

For example, certain apps such as Kik and Chatroulette should be deleted because they are unsafe for children to use. Other popular apps such as Houseparty and Musically need to be closely monitored since they provide a false sense of security.

Parents becoming more involved in their children's lives and educating them on the proper use of social media can provide a safe place for children to explore and benefit from social media use.

Sherry Vafa is an assistant professor of educational technology in the UHV School of Education, Health Professions and Human Development.


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