Being Safe on Social Media
Our usage of Internet technologies continues to increase. We are more connected to the digital world than ever. We pick up our phone or tablet whenever there is a spare moment. We check our social media accounts. We post. We reply to comments. We share. In fact, many of us share more information about us and our whereabouts than we realise.
Most social media applications involve the sharing of photographs, messages and videos. Applications that are particularly popular with teenagers, include:
- Instagram 13+
- Tumblr 13+
- Facebook 13+
- Facebook Messenger 13+
- WhatsApp 16+
- Viber 16+
- Twitter 17+
- Skype 12+
We have received information that the following social media applications are considered UNSAFE for children and teenagers. There are greater opportunities to connect with unknown people and this includes predators.
- ASK.fm 12+
- Kik 13+
- Yellow 12+
- Musical.ly 12+
- Live.ly 12+
- Tinder 17+
- Snapchat 13+
Please note all applications listed above are restricted on the School’s network.
It is unrealistic to restrict all social media usage from children. They will find a way to access them if you do (at a friend’s house for instance), so it is recommended that you communicate with them, openly and regularly instead.
What about games?
Many games now permit communication between players. Players may be anywhere in the world! Children need to be mindful of not sharing personal information such as which school they attend, their address, the soccer team they play for or their full name.
Recommendations for Parents – Get Savvy!
- Download the same social media applications your children are using. Learn what they are all about. Decide whether or not you are comfortable with them being used. Are the applications they are using legally appropriate for their age?
- Review the privacy settings of all social media applications you and your children use.
- Google yourself and your children’s names. What information do you find? Are you happy with what your search reveals?
- Discuss as a family what you are happy to share online. Is your son ok with you sharing an embarrassing picture of them as a baby?
- Discuss how you and your family would like to be viewed online. What image will you portray? Manners (netiquette) is very important.
Are you concerned about your child’s Internet usage? Try the following:
- Charging electronic devices in living areas, NOT in bedrooms where the temptation to use them is there.
- Turning off the modem/router after a specified time. This will kill the WIFI signal. This assumes your child does not have a SIM card in their device.
- Sit down with your child, have them show you and teach you how some of the social media applications work. This is less intrusive and aggressive than demanding to see their device.
- Only permit your children to have friends or family on their social media accounts.
- Consider Internet filters for your home network. There is a new device called Family Zone that can filter Internet sites and applications. The device looks a bit like a router. For more information please visit https://www.familyzone.com.
- Place additional restrictions on your child’s iPad by going into Settings, General and then Restrictions. Do this in consultation with them. Building trust is VERY important.
- Encourage your children to come to you if they see or read something online that concerns them. This will be particularly important if cyberbullying is taking place.
Sexting involves the electronic communication of sexually explicit material between individuals. Children under 16 may be held criminally responsible for sharing nude pictures online. The laws are different in every state and territory.
Pictures often end up in the wrong hands and this results in devastating consequences for the individual concerned. It can be difficult to remove viewable content when it is across multiple platforms.
Everything that is posted online is data stored, forever. Even when comments or photographs are removed from social media sites, records of them are still there. Deleting only removes the data from public view.
Remember that nothing is free online. Free ultimately means that you PAY through the monetisation of data about you. Your data is often used for marketing purposes without you realising. Did you read the terms and conditions or simply tap ‘accept’?
Everyone needs to be mindful of what they share online. Oversharing can affect your relationships with others and impact on your future job prospects. Many employers now review the social media activity of prospective employees.
General Social Media Tips
- Ignore messages sent to you that are inappropriate. Do not continue to engage in conversation with the individual.
- Avatars (nicknames used online) should not reveal personal information such as date of birth and should not be sexually explicit.
- Photographs posted online should NEVER be taken with School uniform on.
Links to Further Information on Cyber Safety
- www.connectsafely.org This site contains some very useful guides on Instagram and cyberbullying.
- www.acorn.gov.au The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network
- www.thinkuknow.org.au Learn more about what people share online and its consequences.
- www.acma.gov.au Australian Communications and Media Authority
- www.esafety.gov.au Office of the E-Safety Commissioner. The Children’s eSafety Commissioner investigates material that is illegal and offensive and can assist in removing it.