Please, if you are parents, take an active role in the online activities of your children. Show them that you care for them by getting involved.
Here are some online safety tips that parents should think about:
The Snapchat App is well known for its potential as a “sexting” app because of its apparent self-destruct feature. Some teens use Snapchat to send lewd photos to others assuming that the photos will disappear after viewing. However, with a bit of effort, Snapchat photos can be retrieved from the phone the photos were received on.
Instagram has some privacy settings but there are not enough. It does not enforce a 13 and over age group when signing up. Make sure that your child's profile is set to 'private'; meaning that only people who are allowed can see photos that are posted. Do not advertise your or any other persons KIK Messenger profile name on Instagram as this is one way users of KIK find others to contact.
Only allow followers that you know - this is a necessity with all social media services. Please make a rule with your kids that they only allow people that they know to follow them.
Do NOT allow Kik - This is a private, un-regulated application without privacy or parental controls. It combines texting with a social network. The majority of kids are probably using KIK just to send messages and photos to friends; however, the app is also heavily used for “sexting”. Schools are reporting that many children under the recommended age of 17+ are signing up to use this app. Unfortunately, Police and Teachers are also reporting increased incidents of kids being approached by adults, being sent porn photos and videos alongside increasing incidents of bullying and sexting through Kik Messenger. This app does not require any real identification and is not dependent on a phone number or email address. This means your child can create a unique user name like “SparklingPrincess1″ to avoid being searched for by their real name on Kik. In regards to privacy, this may seem like a good move but it also means that strangers can hide their real identity.
Censor the photos - It is important that your child does not post photos of themselves or any identifiable items. When photos of kids are posted, they maybe exposing themselves to strangers peeping into their lives.
Turn off Location and Geo-tagging of photos. Most smartphones now tag each photo with geo-location data. At times it can be useful to know where photos are taken but uploaded photos containing that geo-specific information may be unsafe. Please get them to turn that feature off!
Think twice - You may never completely delete content once you have clicked the Send button. Once it has been published online it has definitely been published. Think twice before you click Send or Upload.
The best advice is to have an open relationship with your children when it comes to social networking. Have on-going discussions. Explain why you are doing what you do. Show them how scary it can be. While your kids may complain, deep down inside, they know that you are doing it out of care and concern.
Online Advice is available at our Australian Government site: http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Parents.aspx
Social media can be fun, but if you don’t know how you can protect yourself and your children, it can be very dangerous.