How to stay safe while using social media

Published 3:09 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Social media is an ever-present aspect of our lives. Chatting with friends and family, sharing news, and doing your job to the best of your ability often hinge on the use of an internet connection and various social media sites. Not to mention texting.

The conversation about the pros and cons of the internet, smartphones and other technologies has been an ongoing one. With innovations to computers, tablets and smartphones happening every day, that conversation is likely to continue in perpetuity.

Even though all of these things are now a natural part of day-to-day life, that doesn’t mean that some basic tips and pointers on how to remain safe and responsible online and with smart devices are irrelevant.

Brandy Calvert of the U.K. Cooperative Extension Office and head of 4-H Youth Development recently sent out a basic how-to guide on wisely using social media.

Her first point is that although many of the most popular social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook have age restrictions to signing up, many children can lie and sign up anyway.

It is advised that real names and ages are used when signing up for a social media account. Posting personal information such as home addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers and when you will be gone from home should never be posted online.

Knowing everybody and your child’s friends and followers are a plus. Taking advantage of the privacy settings of social media sites is a given, but even using these settings does not guarantee everything you say online is private.

While your child may consider this next bit of advice as lame or a sign of mistrust, monitoring their accounts to make sure no inappropriate content or information has been shared is also a great way to keep them safe. You can also ask friends and family to remove tags you feel are inappropriate.

Children tend to never like their parents giving them lectures, but reminding them that what they do online can very easily have real life consequences can only help. And lastly, encourage your children to speak up if they feel uncomfortable about what someone is posting online.