New tech devices topped many kids’ Santa lists this past holiday season. Whether or not Santa delivered new devices to your home, it’s still a great time to review Internet safety and get your kids off to a new year of “Social Media For Good!” Continue reading “Internet Safety in the New Year”
It’s hard to turn on the news without seeing violence. Terrible tragedies on U.S. soil — mass shootings in San Bernardino, Colorado Springs, and Charleston — and terrorist attacks in Paris have made the recent news look more like an awful movie than a report on real life.
The news is full of disturbing and violent footage that you would never allow your kids to watch on television shows and movies. But because it’s the news, it’s out there for easy consumption by adults and kids alike.
Kids can walk into a room or flip through the channels and find reports on violence and terror from around the country. But what’s worse is what they can find online.
Violent Videos Aren’t Uncommon on Social Media
While footage aired on television and news broadcasts is edited and usually accompanied by warnings before graphic material, the internet is not so carefully monitored.
Videos of violent situations are frequently uploaded and then widely shared through social media. While there are safeguards from social media sites that allow users to flag offensive and violent videos, the videos don’t always come down.
Kids can come across these videos through search. But even worse, kids may see these videos without even looking for them. Many social sites utilize video playback features that automatically trigger a video to start.
Recently, when Virginia news anchor Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot on live television, their attacker took a first-person video of the event. He later uploaded it to social media. The video was quickly shared and spread throughout social media, where a child browsing through their newsfeed could have accidentally landed on the disturbing footage.
How to Protect Your Child from the Violence on Social Media
There is no way to fully protect your child from seeing violence on social media unless you ban its use altogether.
If you want to protect your child while still allowing them to use social media, you need to talk to them about how they can avoid violent videos and explain what to do if they see one.
It’s important to share the following tips and best practices for social media use:
- Only follow users you know.
- Use settings that hide explicit content.
- Do not search for violent terms.
- Quickly click out of any video that includes violent terms in the title or post.
- Flag any video that is inappropriate.
- If you see a video, don’t keep it to yourself. Talk about it with an adult. An adult can help you process what the videos means.
When kids and teens use social media, it comes with a variety of risks. From online bullying to stranger danger to posting inappropriate messages and photos, a child’s social media activity is something that parents constantly need to monitor.
But with that MamaBear app, Peace of Mind Parenting™ app, that job is a little easier. With the app, parents can easily monitor the way their children use the platforms and ensure they are using social media best practices. Kids are happy because they can use social media, and parents are happy because their children are protected. The free app is available for both iPhones and Androids.
Anneli-Marie R. was a normal 17-year-old walking her dog one evening in the countryside of Eastern Germany.
When Anneli-Marie didn’t return that night, her father went to look for her. He spotted her dog, but she was nowhere to be found. Then, her parents received a distributing call.
Kidnappers, claiming to have Anneli-Marie, called her parents and requested a ransom of over $1 million in exchange for her safe return.
A Tragic Loss for One Teen’s Family
The parents obliged and promised to do whatever they could to get their daughter back. But the exchange never took place as the kidnappers panicked and cut contact with the parents. They later killed Anneli-Marie and left her body on a farm near her home.
Two men — Markus B., 39, and Norbert K., 61 — were arrested in the murder that took place in mid-August. The men were familiar with both Anneli-Marie and her father, a local businessman, when they abutted the girl from the street.
One of the men lived near the victim, and police believed that before the kidnapping, the man scouted the location and researched Anneli-Marie on Facebook.
The Scary Truth About Social Media Sharing
It hasn’t been said exactly what information the men found by researching Anneli-Marie on Facebook. But knowing that the girl’s kidnappers studied her Facebook page highlights some of the scary realities of social media profiles.
Through social media, strangers can begin to identify a person by sight and even learn about their habits and activities.
Public social media profiles send out more information than we realize, and that danger is amplified when users overshare through social media.
Related Post Table Talk: Viral Video Shows the Reality of Online Stranger Danger
How to Talk to Your Kids About Oversharing on Social Media
Oversharing on social media is common among kids and teens as they don’t realize the full reach of their posts. As parents, you need to explain to your kids why oversharing is dangerous for them and everyone in the family and arm your kids with best practices that will protect them.
Here are a few of our recommended best practices:
Set Profiles to Private. There are multiple privacy settings on each social media site. Before your child joins any social site, review the privacy options and decide on the safest settings together.
Never Accept Requests from Strangers. When you approve a friend or follower, they often get additional access to your information and updates. Never accept a friend request unless you have met the person in real life and you know them well. Don’t accept someone just because you have many mutual friends online.
Don’t Overshare Personal Information. Certain information should never be shared on social media including photos that might indicate information such as:
- phone number
- school name
- social security number
Don’t Share Your Life in Real Time. While it is common for teens to share their life on social media as it is happening, it is better to share after an event or experience. If your family is going on vacation, tell your teen not to mention it on social media as it can signal to followers that nobody is home at your house. It is also unsafe to share your location as it makes it easy for stalkers to know where you are at the exact time.
As you teach your children best practices for managing their social media accounts, it is a good idea to follow up and ensure they are doing what you taught them.
You can use the MamaBear app, Peace of Mind Parenting™ app to easily monitor your child’s social media sites all in one place. The free app, available for iPhones and Androids, connects your account with your child’s so you can keep an eye on their activity in real time, further protecting them in the often scary world of social media.
On average, 70 million photos are shared on Instagram per day.
With that level of sharing power and an active user base of more than 300 million, parents shouldn’t be surprised that their children and teens want in on the action.
Parents should expect that sooner or later their child will want to create a profile on the extremely popular photo-sharing app — if they aren’t on it already.
To help parents prepare, we have compiled a list of everything parents need to know before their child joins Instagram.
Is Instagram Safe for Kids?
Not exactly. And not without parental supervision and a good dose of discussion with your children.
As with most social media sites, Instagram includes hazards that come with a community primarily created by its users.
Users can have a negative, harmful, or dangerous experience as they may:
- see racy photos
- see nude photos (while not allowed, they frequently slip through and can be found via search)
- receive too much exposure after sharing a photo
- be easy to locate when they post photos with geo tagging (tags that show your location)
- witness or experience bullying from other users
- receive unwanted solicitations from strangers
Instagram can be a safe and fun app for teens if they know the best practices for keeping themselves out of harm’s way.
At What Age Can Kids Join Instagram?
According to policy, a person must be at least 13 years of age to join Instagram.
While there are many users under 13 who create accounts, Instagram is doing what it can to shut this down.
The app, owned by Facebook, has been known to shut down accounts by users they believe are not 13. One mom explained how she allowed her 11-year-old son to set up an account before realizing that it was in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which restricts websites to collect information from children under the age of 13.
Instagram notified him that his account was disabled until he could upload a picture of a government-issued ID to prove his age.
Are Profiles Public?
Yes and no.
By default, Instagram profiles are public. Many teens like their profiles to be public because they want to get a high number of followers. Users can set their profiles to private which allows only users that accept or “follow” to see their photos.
How Can I Protect My Child?
Understand the site yourself. Instagram provides an excellent resource of tips for parents.
Tell your teen set their profile to private. Teach your child how to responsibly control their visibility.
Teach your teen how to unfollow, block, and report users. Unfollowing a user means that you will no longer view posts from that user in your feed. Blocking a user means that the user can no longer search for or see your account. People aren’t notified when they are blocked. Reporting a user notifies Instagram that a user is violating their policies.
Explain when they should unfollow, block, or report a user. Review appropriate and inappropriate uses of Instagram with your teen so they know when they should unfollow or block another user and even notify an adult or report an account.
Review your teen’s postings. The only way to really know what your teen is doing on Instagram is to see it for yourself. While Instagram doesn’t offer a way for parents to review their child’s account, MamaBear does.
With the MamaBear, the app for Peace of Mind Parenting™, parents can plug their teen’s Instagram login information into the app. Then parents will get notifications sent to their phone anytime their child uploads a new photo, gets a new follower, or uses inappropriate or flagged words.
This is an easy way to allow your child to enjoy the fun of Instagram while ensuring their safety. The free MamaBear app has versions for both parent and child and is available for both iPhone and Android devices.