A parent’s guide to keeping kids safe on social media

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If you’re left scratching your head when your teen starts talking about Snapchat stories or checking in on Facebook, brush up on your social media knowledge so you can help them have a safer and more enjoyable experience online.

Learn how to social network

Whether they’re into online gaming or watching YouTube, it’s important you know what type of social media they use and how it works. If you’ve not already got an account, sign up and see for yourself how these websites work. It’ll help you come to grips with why and how they use it.

Know if they are old enough

According to the NSPCC, one in five parents are under the impression that there are no age requirements at all for social media.

Although the minimum age for users to set up an account on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube and Snapchat is actually 13, users often do not need to have their age officially verified. Social networking websites can be blocked or have their content restricted by parents based on age restrictions, however.

Set up parental restrictions

Parental controls are there for a reason and can be set up on any smart phone or computer.

By using them you can block inappropriate or upsetting content, limit in-app purchases and manage what they download to their phone.

Talk about rights and the law

Whether it’s you or your child, oversharing information (personal details, images or location) can have serious repucussions.

By talking with your child about what is right and wrong on social media and the dangers of oversharing a more positive and open dialogue can be created to prevent and stop cyberbullying and exploitation.

But it’s not just their online rights that should be discussed. Understanding the law is essential to having a safe experience online and children should be encouraged to think before they post.

For example, libel and trolling are taking very seriously and a simple retweet could land them in hot water, regardless of age. If you’re concerned about your child’s use of social media and need help visit Net Aware, a joint partnership by the NSPCC and O2, at www.net-aware.org.uk.