Social networks are the new playground for children. Most of the friending and socializing they do nowadays takes place online. Letting them use all the online socializing tools not only helps them develop social skills, but also provides them with tech skills from an early age. And they already seem pretty savvy, don’t they? But with all the benefits online socializing brings, is it really safe for kids?
Lately, we’ve heard a lot of stories about social media dangers – especially Facebook dangers – in the media. For the purpose of this article we’ll mention only three that are meant to serve as a heads-up or, if you’ve already heard about them, as a reminder:
- In March 2013, Facebook users could see a video displaying child pornography, being shared 16 000 times and liked by almost 4 000 users. A wave of appalled users took their rage to Twitter, and so the news spread rapidly. Facebook managed to remove the video quickly, but it took the team 8 hours to remove all traces of it. The question remains: how did an explicit video sneak in without being detected by Facebook's security system. And what if your child had seen that video?
- Just recently, security researchers have discovered a Facebook worm, distributed via malicious links within Facebook’s chat rooms. This malware is capable of stealing users’ personal information and spying on their browsing activities.
- The shocking story of Amanda Todd who committed suicide last autumn, after becoming victim to a cyberstalker, then cyberbullying on Facebook. Unfortunately, hers is not the only one – other teen suicides caused by online socializing with strangers and/or embarrassing photos of the teen posted on social media have taken place over the past year.
Regrettably, social media dangers are numerous. But we can learn to avoid them and protect our kids from falling victim. Here’s how:
5 best practices to protect your kids from social media dangers:
- 1. Have THE conversation. First off, talk to your kids about the dangers of social networking early on. Go over WHAT is appropriate information to share online and what isn’t, and most importantly with WHOM. Teach them: to avoid conversations with strangers, especially those much older than your kids, how to report abuse, the Dos and Don’ts of social media, and internet etiquette.
- 2. Go through the privacy settings together. Every social network has its privacy settings. Find out what social networks your children are present on, and talk to them about how important privacy is, both offline and online. Set their profiles to Private and explain each step, assuring them you’re trying to help them stay safe, not snoop or meddle in their business.
- 3. Monitor their online social activity. The Parental Control included in BullGuard's Premium Protection suite helps you keep your kids in check and blocks inappropriate content, without nagging them, while the Social Media Protection service alerts both you and your children of potential social media threats.
- 4. Make sure your children have security installed on their devices. Get a powerful internet security suite, like BullGuard’s, to protect them from data-stealing malware. Make sure they have security on both their PCs and smartphones.
- 5. Check in regularly to the Facebook Family Center. Since Facebook is the main social network where kids are socializing nowadays, it is highly responsible for the dangers that might threaten its environment. Thus, their Family Safety Centre provides a wealth of information and advice to parents, teens and teachers alike.
Get BullGuard Premium Protection today and set up the social media protection for your children!