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Six Tips for Keeping Teens Safe on Social Media

Going back to school is about more than shiny shoes and trendy notebooks. It’s also about kids making new friends and adding those friends on social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

More than 60 percent of teens in the United States have at least one social media account, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. And while being online is a good way to keep in touch with friends, it’s important for parents to be proactive about Internet safety.

Unfortunately, there are people who can use your child’s personal information to steal identities, bully them or begin an inappropriate relationship. Help protect students from online dangers by following these safety tips:

1. Keep your child’s profile private so that only family and people you know see photos, important dates and other information.

2. Make sure they’re not posting personal details, including phone numbers, home address, and the name of their school or Social Security number.

3. Only allow them to publish photos and videos that don’t jeopardize their safety or their integrity.

4. Make sure they choose a strong password that can’t be guessed, and that it gets changed every three months.

5. Never allow them to accept friend requests from people they don’t know.

6. Keep an open dialogue with your children. Ask them to let you know if they’ve received private messages from a stranger, or from someone at school who is teasing, harassing or threatening them. Those could be signs of cyber-bullying or even a sexual predator.

Get additional online safety tips, and other relevant information on OnGuardOnline.gov, a great government resource for parents and teens.

Read this post in Spanish.

Safe Social Networking

Social media websites and applications are a now normal part of everyday life, allowing you to connect with friends and family across the world. Some of the newer social media tools use GPS technology that allow you to “check in” by posting your location on social media channels to receive special offers from retailers. While it is tempting to keep your friends updated on your life, these posts can make you vulnerable to cyber stalkers or home invasions.

Here are some helpful hints to keep you safe online:

  • Ensure that your contact information is only visible to the people you know and trust.
  • Only post information that you are comfortable with anyone seeing.
  • Don’t share personal information with people that you don’t know.
  • Use your privacy settings to manage who can see your content, including messages, and pictures.
  • Remember, even if you delete something you post online, it might not be gone.
  • Beware of cyber-bullying and online confrontations. Online activities can have real world consequences.

Find more tips for protecting yourself online from the Federal Trade Commission.