Social Media Safety: How to Keep Our Youth Safe

August 26, 2014

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Let's face it, social networks are an amazing resource especially when it comes to keeping in contact with distant friends and family but let's not be blinded to the potential dangers that these social media outlets can cause.Everyone has heard of Facebook, but today’s youth are staying interactive with a variety of social media sites. Below is a list of some of the most popular social media sites among teens:

Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Google+, Vine, Wanelo, Kik Messenger, Ooovoo,, Yik Yak, WhatsApp, Omegle, Yo., Whisper

Have you heard of most of these?

Mitchell Kapor, a pioneer in the personal computing industry says, "Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant."

We agree.

We could spend all day going into detail about the functionality of each one of these social media sites but let’s focus on the important factor:

How do we keep youth safe?

With all of this information (both good and bad) at their fingertips it can be overwhelming and dangerous if not managed well. Below are a few everyday tips you can use to help protect yourself and your family from harm while using social media:

  • Almost every app or web browser has something called "Privacy & Security Settings". These settings can help you control who can view your posts, pictures, videos while allowing you to manage your social media in a healthy way!
  • Talk to your youth about protecting their reputation while using social media. The things you post online stay online; think before you post. Would you want family and future employers seeing the post? A recent study found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online!
  • Social Media is not all bad if used properly. Another study also found that recruiters responded quickly to people who demonstrated a strong, positive personality online! Social media can be used as a tool to show others your smarts, thoughtfulness and skills.
  • Keep your personal information personal. The more personal information you post, the easier it can be for a hacker to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other serious crimes. Make sure your youth understands the boundaries of personal information.

We should start speaking to our youth about online safety at an early age. Our youth spend an average of 12 hours every week on the internet...12 hours! Don’t get overwhelmed – there’s no need to try and cover everything in one conversation. Technology changes every day and yes, you’ll need to stay current but try having small conversations every week to let your child know you're interested in their interests.

If you want to know what your child is doing online, ask!

  • Which websites do you enjoy spending time on?
  • What are the best things to do on these websites?
  • Which websites would you recommend for a friend?
  • What is your favorite game?
  • Who do you play games with?

Chances are that your child knows more than you do about being online but you can use that to your advantage. Here are some great ways to get child involved:

  1. Let your child teach you how to use social media sites and games. Not only does this allow you and your kids to spend quality time together, but it can also allow you to see what privacy settings to put in place.

  2. Have your child help you set up a profile on one of their favorite sites. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions like "What does this mean?" or "Why did you choose that option?"

  3. If your child is an avid gamer, have them teach you how to play and play together! This will give you great insight on what the game is like and allow you to see if the game is age appropriate.

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Technology will continue to advance at a rapid rate, so rather than be afraid, be informed!