Are your children entering high school? New school, new friends or unexpectedly reconnecting with old friends, it’s a very exciting time for your youngsters or your teens. As parents caught up in this whirlwind, with the purchase of school supplies, clothes and electronic devices in some cases, we often forget to discuss social media safety with them.
Do you know the platforms used by your children and their friends? Beyond Facebook, you should familiarize yourself with YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, the most popular sites with teens. A survey conducted in 2018 by PEW Research Center shows a very high percentage of usage of these sites among 13-17 year olds, and the number of users continues to grow.
The popularity of these sites is partly due to the fact that these companies have set an age 13 minimum to access their services. So it’s very easy to open accounts to log in and “network” in different ways:
- Private messaging: Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.
- Photo, video content sharing: Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
- Multimedia platform – social networking: Facebook, Reddit,
- Network gaming platform: Twitch (Fortnite games, etc.)
- Video sharing platform: You Tube, TikTok
- Other networks: Twitter, Tumbler, Pinterest
Your points to monitor
Your challenge consists in understanding the functioning of the social media that your teenagers use or wish to use. In addition to familiarizing yourself with these platforms, it is essential to read the security and privacy policies of each of them, as well as the parameters of use. Remember that your children are targets of choice ! You have to make them aware of the dangers to which they may be exposed.
Young people may be victims of:
Help your children to surf safely and detect the traps waiting for them. Here are some good habits to teach them:
- Use strong and different passwords for each of the platforms used.
- Verify the parameters of use of the accounts: public/private.
- Avoid sharing their credentials with anyone and providing personal information.
- Beware of online quizzes or other popular publications or contests which could facilitate account recovery and be used to create a fake profile (Facebook clone)
- Choose their friends carefully, and make sure the friends of their friends really are!
And lastly, set a good example!
Do you exhibit exemplary behaviour on social media? Do you share everything your children do? What type of news do you share? Do you post lots of personal photos of your family and your immediate circle?
Since young people often learn by example, it’s important to examine your own habits. With your children, go through your albums, your previous posts, your news feed. Ask them to comment on them, to decide whether or not the photos of them or the posts about them should be removed.
Speak with your children regularly to know their online activities and prevent any difficulties they may encounter. Maintain a climate of trust to help them develop their independence and their critical faculties. A good way to do this is to keep them informed about the latest developments or potential traps.
Some useful references
Reference sites are numerous on the Web. Professionals’ Financial has listed some of them for you:
- Teljeunes.com : in the Tech section under the topics of cybersecurity, cyberdependency, bullying, etc.
- Cyberaide.ca: Canada’s tipline to report the online sexual exploitation of children
- Tips for parents: Privacy education for kids – Office of the privacy Commissioner of Canada.
- Welivesecurity.com: Cybersecurity news and information site