Sharing information and images via social media is a part of daily life for many children and teens. Social media allows kids to communicate with one another, and to document and share what they are doing in real time. The networking power of social media means that it is not uncommon for kids to be connected with people they have never met in person.
Whether it’s via text message or a smartphone app like Instagram or Snapchat, today’s children and youth are able to share personal information far beyond what their parents could do when they were young. It’s important for parents to learn about the different technologies children are using to help keep them safe online.
Social media is always changing, with new apps appearing all the time. Because this document is only an introduction, we have included links to other websites you might find helpful.
Social media refers to websites and apps that allow people to interact with others, or create and share content. Popular social media platforms for youth include Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
There are many different ways that people use social media:
Most social media websites have privacy policies and settings, but they are all different. Some sites are completely public, meaning that anyone can read or look at anything, anytime. Other sites let you control who has access to your information.
The following suggestions will help you and your children protect their online privacy:
Cyberbullying is when people are bullied online. While most online social interactions are positive, some people use the technology to intimidate and harass others. Cyberbullying can happen in many ways: by sending mean messages over e-mail or by posting them publicly in an app like Facebook, by sharing photos and videos without permission, or by excluding someone from a group chat.
Talk to your children about cyberbullying. If it isn’t too serious, suggest that they ignore it at first. If it doesn’t stop, is violent or sexually explicit, or if your child gets scared, encourage them to talk to you or another trusted adult.
Sexting is sending sexually explicit messages, photos or videos between smartphones or social media apps. It can also happen over e-mail.
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