Setting up a Social Media Account for Your Child
There are many different social media platforms available to young people nowadays- so many that the idea of letting your precious baby onto the internet unsupervised is not one you’re willing to entertain- however, it’s not all doom and gloom. Social networking is very valuable and is a key feature in the lives of people everywhere- it’s a way for people to keep in contact with their friends, follow news pages and have an insight into the lives of their role models. There are dangers, much like everything, but there are also ways to keep your children safe while they use social media, and in this article I’m going to explain the best measures you, as parents, can take to keep your children as safe as possible online. I’m going to focus on the three ‘main’ social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Your child might want all three- I’d advise starting with one to see how they get on before loosening the reigns- but it is totally up to you guys!
So, how do we go about setting up a social media account for our child that keeps them as safe as possible?
The first thing to do- before you even think about turning on your computer- is to discuss with your child the pros and cons of social media; ensure that they are aware of the potential dangers and understand what to do if they ever find themselves in a difficult situation while online. Agree upon boundaries and conditions that will be set in place; for example, are they going to use their real name and photo, or an alias? Are you going to have access to the account? If so, how much? After you’ve discussed these issues and come up with some ‘ground rules’ that everyone agrees upon, you can start to create the account with your child.
Generally, you just input some basic details about yourself such as your name, age and email address and then you’re on your way!
Once this is done, you’ll be given the option to customise your account settings; the section you are really interested in is the ‘privacy settings’ section.
Why are we interested in these?
These are what controls who can see and interact with your child’s profile, and how much they can interact with it.
There are lots of different options for who can see your child’s posts on Facebook (friends, friends of friends, public etc.) and which bits of your profile they can see- it can get pretty confusing! Your best bet is to set everything to ‘friends only’ (or ‘friends of friends’ if that option isn’t available), this restricts the amount of people who can see profile content to people that have been pre-approved by the account holder.
On Twitter and Instagram it’s slightly different as there is a ‘follow’ feature rather than a ‘friend’ feature – members can ‘follow’ other members to see everything they post, and even people who don’t follow you can see all of your profile. Sounds daunting, right? On these websites, though, there is an option to set your profile so that you also have to pre-approve followers. This gives you and your child a chance to vet who can see their content, which is ideal.
But what if my child sees something inappropriate?
While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ALL have strict policies in place to seriously minimise the amount of inappropriate content on their websites, obviously some things will slip through the net from time to time. You can report these to help stop them from appearing again, and only ‘like’, ‘follow’ or ‘friend’ people and things that you’re familiar with, but the truth is that there’s no way to stop them seeing something that you don’t want them to see.
Really, the key in all of this is to talk to your child- keep everything very open and honest. Make it clear that you are trusting them, give them the tools to protect themselves and have faith that if anything goes wrong they will return that trust and talk to you about it and allow you to help.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have help pages specifically geared towards parents which you are free to read;
The internet and social media can be wonderful, extremely powerful tools, as long as your child knows how to use them correctly. So go forth, learn together, discuss, keep safe, and good luck.