Topics of Interest

Social Media Tips for Parents

The article was written and found in the Nassau County Police Department's private partner newsletter.

  • Facebook won't let kids have sites if they're fewer than 13 years old. So, kids simply do the math to figure out what year to enter so they'll seem 13 years or older. Check your kid's computer browser history. If you see Facebook listed, assume your kid has an account.
  • Tell your kids to think before they post. Remind them that everything can be seen by a vast, invisible audience (otherwise known as friends of friends of friends). Each family is different, but for middle school kids, it's a good idea for parents to have access to their kids' pages, at least at first, to be sure that what's being posted is appropriate. Parents can help keep their children from doing something they'll regret later.
  • Make sure kids set their privacy settings. Privacy settings aren't foolproof, but they're important. Take the time to learn how privacy settings work on your kids' favorite sites, and teach your kids how to control their privacy.
  • Kindness counts. Lots of sites have anonymous applications like "bathroom wall" or "honesty boxes" that allow users to tell their friends what they think of them. Rule of thumb: If your children wouldn't say it to someone's face, they shouldn't post it online.
  • Go online. If you don't have one already, get an account for yourself to see what kids can and can't do.

Social Media Tips for Parents of High School Kids

  • Talk about the nature of their digital world. Remind them that anyone can see what's on their pages even if they think no one will. Potential employers and college admissions staff often surf social networking sites. Ask your teens to think about who might see their pages and how they might interpret their posts or photos.
  • Set some rules for what is and isn't appropriate for your kids to communicate, play, and post online. Posts with photos or comments about youthful misbehavior could come back to haunt them.
  • Let them know that anything they create or post can be cut, altered, pasted, and sent around. Once they put something on their pages, it's out of their control and can be taken out of context and used to hurt them or someone else. This includes comments and photos of sex, drugs, and alcohol. Tell them that online information can last forever and if they wouldn't put something on the wall of the school hallway, they shouldn't post it online.
  • Don't post your location. Social networks allow kids to post their location but it's just not safe for teens to do this as others will know where they are.
  • Watch the clock. Social network sites can be real time suckers. Hours and hours can go by, which isn't great for getting homework and other tasks finished.