Safety for Kids in the Digital World Part 3 of 3

 Social Media Safety for Parents and Kids

Teen typing on smart phone.

In our first article of this series, we discuss overall Internet Safety and developing a foundation for safety, boundaries, and a growing parent-child relationship through the process. The second article discussed specific safety practices to develop with your kids when it comes to specific challenges with email and email programs. In this third part of the series, we will look at some specific guidelines and ideas to help you develop a healthy social media safety plan with your kids. Understanding that no single article is a complete and exhaustive resource, this will be a great foundation and starting ground to help you develop the plan that best fits your values and family boundaries.

 1 -Deleting Images

– Most people do not realize that it is much easier to post images than it is to remove them from social media sites. For example, you and your child may be able to easily upload photos to sites like Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram, and you might just as easily delete them. However, these sites are very active with people as well as software called bots that quickly scrape and save images, including meta-data related to those images telling the bot how that particular photo is linked to your information. Additionally, although you may delete your photos, many of those sites are required to keep archives and records, so the information is often deleted from your public profile, but still kept on a server or database somewhere outside of your control. The rule of thumb is, if you or your kids would not want certain people to see the image, it should never be uploaded in the first place.

 2 – Settings on your smart devices

– Many people, or most who have social media accounts also have them synced with their portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Smart phones and settings on your tablets have geolocation that when active, tell different services exactly where you are when you post certain posts and take photos. Some people have been stalked and found, in rare cases, because their photo they posted to a social media site had meta data attached to it revealing their exact location and time when the photo was taken on the phone or tablet. The people were unaware that their device was tagging their photo with that information, and with many devices, this is an automatic process that you have to manually disengage after you set up your device with wanted personal information.

 3- SM profile privacy settings

– Every social media account has multiple places or layers where privacy settings can be set or restricted. Often, however, there are ways around these settings. For example, if you post a photo or document that is non-public, only for specific lists, family or friends with restrictions, but do not restrict downloading, any one of these people could download the file and upload it elsewhere, making it fully public. Be sure you understand all of the access points for files and photos you want to remain private, and if in doubt, don’t post it until you are sure.

 4 – SM permissions

– Often you will receive an invitation from an application (App) or a game through Facebook or another SM site that asks for permission to post, have access to your account settings, and your contact lists and other information. Many people grant these programs permission without a second thought. Many people do not know how much access or transparency those 3rd party apps actually have and how they exploit the data for marketing research, targeting and advertising etc. When in doubt, teach your kids to avoid App games, especially those that ask for extensive permissions about your account information and access to your posts and contact lists, without understanding exactly how they get used. These companies know that the majority of people never take the time to read their 20 page privacy policies and procedures and therefore have a little more freedom with your data and your childrens’ data than what you might suspect.

 5 – Age Restrictions

– Sites and SM sites have age restrictions for a reason. Some cutoff points for certain sites are 13, while others are 18. Be sure you know these limitations for your children, and be sure to establish a way to prevent your children from being on certain SM sites beyond their appropriate age level for access.

 6- Accountability

– We discussed sofware for accountability in the first article, but with social media, you might want to set up a fair expectation whereby your kids will have to share their social media profiles and discussions with you openly on a regular basis. Sure, they can delete things and hide things from you, but if you establish a no-guilt and safety foundation of trust, then they are more likely to reveal potentially dangerous or tempting interactions with you, so that you and your child are not surprised and their safety compromised. With personal accountability sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and having some accountability software installed on all devices (like you can set the expectation that our child must earn privacy and it will only be granted at an older age that is appropriate for your family boundaries.

 7 – Engage

– Just as a good parent will regularly engage his or her children with their social life, it is critical to engage them about their practices with social media. Engaging and asking difficult questions from time to time tells your kids that you are not oblivious, detached and uncaring. In fact, with a foundation and atmosphere of love and open discussions, engaging in a balanced frequency without interrogating or belittling your children will help your children feel more loved and safe, and will foster a more trusting relationship and relational dynamics well into adulthood.

 8 – Viral capabilities

– Social media posts and photos usually do not go viral, but when the do, they spread like wildfire and you can never recapture what is out there. Perhaps you have seen SM posts where a parent posts a photo with their teenager holding up a sign asking people to like and share it, so they can prove how quickly their information is spread into the hands of thousands of strangers. Examples like this do not always work to prove the point, but the reality is that any message, document, post, text or photo can go viral, and once it does, your child has lost all control of who sees the post or image. When an image or post is tagged with invisible meta-data revealing the time, date and location, it is much easier for a predator or identity thief to access more information or to locate you or your child. Helping children understand this and setting up precautions is the best way to prevent their images and personal posts or information from falling into the wrong hands.

In summary, combining strategies in all three arenas, Internet, Email, and Social Media (SM), you will educate and protect your children well, while establishing healthy relationship accountability dynamics and keeping everyone in your family as safe as possible in this rapidly growing, digital wilderness.


About the author: Aaron Schulman is an Internet marketing and affiliate marketing professional, who has had to implement many of these strategies with his wife and 3 girls. He has over a decade of combined experience with Internet business, Social Media, SEO training and email marketing. He also writes thorough reviews to help people find the best solutions for their personal and business needs, including Aweber reviews on email marketing software and best practices. You can learn more about him at


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