Social Media Safety: Think Before You Post

Do you love pinning, posting, tweeting, and chatting? Who doesn’t? Feeling connected is a high that’s hard to resist. Some of us spend hours getting sucked into a sea of social media sites—checking endless Facebook posts, watching funny YouTube videos, and following clever Pinterest boards, to name a few. Who can blame us? With so many cool sites out there, it’s easy to get hooked online. And then hooked by hackers who are just waiting for us to slip up so they can steal our identities, our money—our lives. What a buzzkill. So don’t slip up. Keep your family safe online with these helpful, hack-proof tips.

Be Sure Your Kids Are Web-Wise

Years ago, kids had to be street-wise, not web-wise. Remember rules, like, just say NO to strangers and scream really loud if someone tries to grab you? Sure, those still apply, but these days, the predators trying to get us are online, too. Out of sight, but just as real. And screaming like a maniac won’t make a bit of difference. Exploring the Internet can be as dangerous for children as a stranger following them down a dark alley. And because their curiosity is way stronger than their sense of caution, kids need to learn how to recognize nasty cyber bullies and online predators who search for victims on social media. So talk to them NOW about safe online behavior that everyone in the family should follow. Remember to be open, approachable, and understanding as you discuss the following topics.

Stay In The Know

Before you can even begin the discussion, you need to know—or at least sound like you know—what you’re talking about. So keep up with their latest and greatest go-to sites because what was in last week might already be out. Check the technology section of your newspaper or reputable online news sites like Business Insider to stay on top of current social media trends. Remember MySpace? Out! But Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr, Vine, and YouTube? In! Are you familiar with these? Do you know the difference between Tumblr and Snapchat? If not, you should get them and vet them.

Keep An Eye On The Social Media Situation

Kids’ computers should be placed in a centralized location, not in their bedrooms. If they know you can peek over their shoulder at any time, they’re less likely to be naughty online.

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Be Their Friend

These days, kids hardly ever make calls or write notes anymore because Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter keep them connected. So it’s harder for parents to eavesdrop or snoop into their kids’ business unless they know what they’re up to online. Insist they befriend you on every social site they visit. No exceptions. Sure, they’ll hate it at first, but eventually they’ll forget you’re even on there, and you can spy all you want. Plus, just knowing that Mom and Dad are watching, will ensure your little darlings only post appropriate photos and tweets—or else. Because once their personal info is out there, it could go anywhere. And stay there, permanently. Oh, and don’t forget to routinely check those cell phones they barely ever talk on, but text on all the time.

Beware Of Strangers

Tell your kids to NEVER open an email if they don’t recognize the name. Delete it right away. This is no different than finding a strange package on the doorstep. Explain how hackers are criminals who break into the house through the computer, not the window, bringing malware and cyber attacks to destroy your happy home. And NEVER befriend a stranger on a social site, no matter how cool they might seem. Identity thieves create fabulous, fake profiles to lure unsuspecting friends to give up their personal information.

Keep Private Info Private

Use privacy settings on all devices and check them regularly. And make sure your kids know to NEVER share a password. Giving it away—even to friends—is like telling a secret they’ve been asked to keep. Shared passwords could eventually wind up in the wrong hands, ultimately invading your family’s privacy. Also, your kids shouldn’t give their age, address, or phone number online. True friends will already know this info, and if they don’t, they can always call—yes, actually speak—to find out.

Be A Role-Model

Kids learn most of their behavior—online and offline—from YOU. That’s not a surprise, right? So practice what you preach. You already know to watch your language around the house, but what about online? Be sure to keep it clean so your kids don’t bust YOU with questionable photos, tweets, or language online.