Millions of people, including children and teens, use social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Tumblr, Instagram and World of Warcraft… to name a few) every day. Guiding your child to be a good digital citizen means using social media safely and respectfully to protect themselves and others. Teach your child to:
Follow the "Golden Rule". Being polite is essential. Encourage your child to treat others the way he or she would want to be treated: with respect, honesty, fairness and kindness.
Keep private information private. Teach your child to Never share certain "private" information:
- his or her address, phone number, social security number, usernames or passwords.
- any images that make it possible to identify where he or she lives
- his or her current location, vacation plans or daily schedule
- sexual messages or images
- anything he or she wants to keep truly private.
Protect his or her image. Every photo, message or comment your child posts will make an impression and can affect his or her reputation. Inform your child to:
- never post anything that he or she would be ashamed to share in public (such as posts about drugs, alcohol, illegal activity or sex)
- think twice before posting anything
- never post something out of anger- feelings go away, angry posts do not
- do not pass along any information that could cause embarrassment, hurt feelings or harm others
Speak up. If anything makes your child feel uncomfortable, encourage him or her to tell a trusted adult. If your child ever receives any kind of offensive or sexual messages, he or she should:
- never respond or communicate.
- never pass it on.
- always tell a trusted adult immediately.
These basics are not just one conversation; they should be ongoing reminders and discussions. Whether you know a lot (or a little) about social media, you can help make your child's online activities as safe and rewarding as possible.