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Talking to children about social media safety

There's no question that social media has radically changed the way we communicate. In just over five years, the opportunities and advantages for those who use it properly have exploded. However, when not used wisely, social media can have damaging consequences. That's why parents can't talk enough to their children about social media safety. To help facilitate those conversations, the following information and resources are being provided. 

Tips for parents

Reprinted with permission from Parent Today,
"Why we need to pay attention to our kids' social media"

  • Open up a dialogue. Encourage your child to stay away from sites that promote anonymous interaction. Remind children never to share personal information with someone they don't know, such as allowing a program to access their location, or any personal information that could potentially identify them (such as hometown). Remind them that just because someone sounds like a cool teenager doesn't mean they actually are.
  • Talk to your children about cyberbullying. Discuss how anonymity can lead to bad behavior and cruel comments.
  • Review social networking tips, and set guidelines for what's OK to post online and what's not. Be sure to check privacy settings on any website they sign on to, particularly for younger children.
  • Review your child's apps and contacts on their cellphone. Don't recognize someone? Ask why they are on your child's phone. You have a right and an obligation to know what they are doing — particularly if you are paying for their cellphone!
  • Remind your children to think before they post. Kindness counts. If they wouldn't say it to someone's face, don't say it online. The Dignity for All Students Act and related New York State laws make schools accountable for certain online student behavior — especially harassment, discrimination and bullying — even when it occurs off campus and outside of school hours. A child's inappropriate cyber activity could have severe consequences for his or her academic career if it creates a significant disruption within the school.
  • Be aware of history. Check the computer's browser history for information on sites your child is visiting. There is no mechanism to prevent a child from saying they are over the age of 13 when they are not. They are savvy enough to figure out how to compute an age that makes them old enough to set up an account.
  • Get with the program. Check out the various websites that are out there. Get an account for yourself and see what your children can and can't do online. Read connect Safely's Parent Guides on cybersecurity, cyberbullying, instagram and snapchat
  • Check the settings on your computer to ensure as much as possible that your child doesn't have access to inappropriate content. Make sure parental controls are set on the computer your child uses, or they could get an education you're not planning on.

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