Today’s young generation has grown up using a variety of technology. Cell phones, tablets, computers, iPods, gaming consoles, and so much more. For parents who didn’t grow up with these technologies or aren’t very tech-savvy, it can be hard to understand how to use them. This includes social media platforms, like Instagram and Snapchat, which are most commonly used by kids and teens. To help you understand social media better, we’ve created this social media safety guide.
What Is Social Media?
Social media, also known as social networking sites, are websites and apps where people can connect with others online and share what’s going on in their lives. People can connect with friends, family, those with similar likes, coworkers, and others. Users are able to share different types of content including photos, videos, links, GIFs, text, stories, live streams, and much more. Every platform has its own functionalities, features, and purpose. Most social media platforms are supposed to be used by people 13-years-old and up. However many of these platforms are being used by kids much younger than that.
Popular Social Media Platforms Used Today
Facebook is considered one of the original social media platforms that helped skyrocket the industry. The platform is all about connecting with your community; your family, friends, coworkers, and those with similar interests. On your News Feed, you can see all your friends’ posts, and updates from pages you follow as well as groups you’re a part of. The platform allows you to share photos, videos, GIFs, links, text, events, and message people privately through Messenger.
Twitter is most known for popularizing the hashtag. A hashtag allows you to specifically theme a tweet. For example, when posting a throwback tweet, you can use #TBT (#ThrowbackThursday). Besides hashtags, Twitter is the platform to stay up-to-date with trending topics and news. You can customize your “What’s happening” section to display what you’re interested in. When tweeting (aka posting), you can share links, photos, GIFs, polls, videos, and text.
Instagram is a social media platform focused on users posting pictures and videos. Users can customize and alter their videos and photos with the various editing tools and filters the platform provides. To update followers on daily activities, users can create a story, which stays active for 24 hours. To extend the platform’s capabilities, the creators of Instagram came up with IGTV, which is a platform for posting and watching long-form videos.
Snapchat is the app to instantly message your friends or strangers in a fun and entertaining way. Instead of sending a traditional selfie, you can send a short Snap video of yourself using a cool filter or silly augmented reality animation. A feature all parents should watch out for on the platform is Snap Map. It allows a user to share the real-time location with their friends.
TikTok is the newest social media platform from this list that blew up overnight mainly due to people being quarantined during the coronavirus pandemic. Users can post 15 or 60 second video clips of anything they want; Dance challenges, photo collages, confessions, animals videos, and so much more! When creating a TikTok, users are able to apply sounds, effects, voiceovers, and filters to enhance the clip.
Through the Discovery tab, users are able to search users, sounds, hashtags, and can view trending topics on the platform. On the “For You” feed, users are recommended TikToks to watch based on who they follow, their likes, comments, and other clips they’ve watched.
YouTube isn’t your typical social media platform. On it, users are able to create their own channel and publish original video content. However, users aren’t required to create a channel. They can just watch, like, dislike, and comment on videos, and subscribe to channels they enjoy.
LinkedIn isn’t a platform used by children, but is one parents should be aware of. It is a professional networking site used to connect with coworkers and those in your industry. The platform allows companies to list their business and post job listings.
5 Social Media Safety Tips To Follow
When it comes to children, it’s essential to follow some simple rules to ensure that they stay safe while using social media. There are different ways to stay safe on every individual platform, but here is a list of generic social media tips to follow.
Make Their Personal Accounts Private
To make sure your child’s posts are only seen by those they know and their followers, set their accounts to private. Doing this will also protect them by ensuring strangers will not be stalking their accounts and obtain private information about them.
Only Connect With People They Know
There are a lot of dangerous people on social media including stalkers, sexual predators, scammers, identity thieves, cyberbullies, and more. For your child’s protection, make it a rule that they can only friend/follow people they know and public figures and businesses. But beware, many of these social media criminals may pose as people they know.
Be Careful Who They Message With
On most platforms, users can receive messages unsolicited, or get messages from supposed people that they know. Every so often, you should talk to your child or view their social media accounts to check who they’re talking with. It’s really easy for them to connect with strangers through social media games, groups, and communities. Another user may seem innocent, but could turn out to be a sexual predator.
Avoid Sharing Too Much Personal Information
Social media platforms are all about sharing what is going on in your life. However, with children and teens being new to these platforms, they can overshare things about themselves. For their online safety, tell them to make sure they don’t share too much information about themselves in posts and messages. This includes sharing where they live, their age, interests, pet’s name, the school they go to, and tagging their location. In the wrong hands, an online criminal could use it to commit fraud and identity theft.
Make Sure Their Accounts Are Secure
Social media platforms provide numerous ways to keep accounts secure from hackers. Some of these security features include 2FA (two-factor authentication), security questions, recovery contacts/emails, and the ability to block other accounts.
Listed above are all of the essentials you need to know about social media to ensure your child’s safety. With all of the dangers social media poses, it’s better to be cautious by teaching your child the necessary safety tips, monitoring their social media activity, and using the necessary settings.