Social Media Safety FAQs

Technology, popular apps, and teen social media trends change so quickly that it can leave parents feeling like they can’t keep up with their kids. While there are a bunch of security softwares parents can use, nothing is going to protect your kids better than YOU. So, we're on a mission to help every parent keep their kids safe online.

We created this list of frequently asked questions we receive from parents and educators all over the world.

If you have a question we haven't answered yet, please don't hesitate to comment your question below and we'll do our best to answer it!

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Social Media Apps & Cell Phone Safety FAQs

When should I give my kids a cell phone?

Our suggestions:

  • Ages 0-10: No phone
  • Ages 10-13: Flip phone (SMS/text, phone calls)
  • Age 13: Cell phone safety contract
  • Age 14: Smartphone (without social media apps installed)
  • Age 15: Smartphone (with social media apps installed)

Why is a flip phone a good starting place for kids?

  • Flip phones offer students the chance to connect and communicate (without the down side of social media consuming their time and comparing them to others)
  • Without apps on your child’s phone you can monitor their activity, review their phone bill to see who/when they’re texting and calling, and prevent them from talking to strangers
  • Flip phones encourage real conversations via phone (because texting is a little harder with the keypad limitations)

My kids want social media but they're not ready for it, what can I do?

  • Help your children determine 2-3 things they want to be known for when colleges/future employers search for them online (e.g. volunteering, hobbies, school projects)
  • Encourage them to start taking positive pictures and writing descriptions about the projects they’re working on
  • Create a folder and save their work because it will be positive content they can share once you’re ready for them to be on social media and develop a website

Should I ban social media?

Banning technology won’t help prepare your children for their future. Instead, we recommend giving them limited access to screens, monitoring their activity, and having regular digital safety discussions together.

How can I find someone’s second/secret Instagram account? (Aka: Spam/Finstagram)

  • Get your child’s phone
  • Open their Instagram
  • Hold down the profile photo icon in the lower right of Instagram
  • Alternate usernames may appear - these are their other accounts

How do kids hide their activity from their parent's phone bill?

  • Most apps have a direct messaging feature which allows user to chat in private using their phone’s data plan (without showing up on their parent’s phone bill)
  • When kids use messaging apps or social media on their phones the activity from that app doesn’t appear on their parent’s phone bill like regular text messages and calls will
  • Parents MUST be on the same apps their students are using so they can monitor behavior

How can I find hidden apps on someone’s phone?

Find all hidden apps on an iPhone:

  • Open the App Store on your child’s phone
  • Click “Updates” in the bottom right corner
  • Select “Purchased
  • Click “My Purchases
  • This is where you can access and review every app your student has ever downloaded

Android phone instructions:

  • Open the Google Play Store (on your child’s phone and ensure you are on the homepage)
  • Select the 3 line icon (...) next to the search bar
  • Click on “My Apps & Games
  • Select the “All” tab
  • This is where you can access and review every app your student has ever downloaded

How do I know what my kids are doing on their phones?

Some apps share posts online and it could change your student’s digital footprint for college. Use Google to monitor your student weekly and have a dialog about what you find in their search results to help them set a plan for their future.

Do I need to be on the same apps as my kids?

  • Yes! You are the best at protecting your kids online (not a parental control app)
  • When parents use the same apps as their kids, they become familiar with how the app works, how children may be using the app to hide activity from their parents, who your children are talking to, and how they behave on social media
  • Being on the same apps as your kids gives you the opportunity to monitor their activity as it’s happening (as opposed to waiting for an incident to happen)

Should my child use their real name on social media?

  • Yes, but it’s important that your kids stay private until they are old enough to be on social media. Our recommendation is that students don’t start using social until they’re at least 14 and have planned their online brand with a parent
  • Once your student has showcased that they are ready to be responsible online, help them set up a social media account on one of the apps in our Green Zone using their real name. This will help them develop a positive digital footprint

Should I know my kids' social media passwords?

  • Yes! Parents should have their kids’ passwords. Younger kids should be aware that their parents can monitor their activity at any time
  • If your teen has showcased their ability to use screen time responsibly, create a sealed envelope that has their passwords for all of their social media accounts and only open it if needed (but make them promise they will not change, or share, their passwords)
  • We recommend using a password manager as a family.Password managers allow you to create random, unique passwords for each site you use to ensure the password is as secure as possible.

How do I get my kids off their phones?

  • Teach your students how to use their phone with a purpose (instead of as a pastime)
  • Turning their social media accounts into a portfolio gets them creating a positive online footprint for their future, instead of scrolling through other people’s posts

What can I do to encourage my child to use their phone less?

  • Set screen time guidelines and explain the guidelines to your children. Ensure they understand the consequences of exceeding their screen time limits
  • Find positive offline activities they enjoy
  • Encourage them to spend time doing these activities so that they can create content to share when they’re ready to be on social media

Should I follow my kids on Instagram and social media?

  • Yes. Be aware of the apps your kids use and have your own account on each platform. Spend some time using the app and determine if it’s safe for your family
  • Follow your kids but don’t engage with their posts. It’s important to follow your kids on social media so you can monitor their activity and see who they’re talking to online
  • Regularly monitor their accounts and talk to your children about their social media activity

How do I get notified every time my child posts to Instagram?

  • This strategy only works if you have use your child’s Instagram username and password info (not your username):
  • Create an account on IFTTT.com
  • Connect Instagram to IFTTT.com (your student’s login info)
  • Tell IFTTT to email you every time there is a new photo on your student’s account
  • Tell your student you’re doing this so they don’t find it sneaky
  • Also remove any other apps that have access to your student’s account
  • Click “My Applets” then click “New Applet”
  • Click “+ This” (the blue text)
  • Type “Instagram” into “Choose a service”  
  • Click the Instagram option
  • Click “New photo by you”
  • Click “+ That” (the blue text)
  • Click the email option (blue box below “Choose a service”)
  • Click “Send me an email”
  • Click “Create an action” (you don’t need to adjust anything in the email)
  • Click “Finish”
  • Follow the same steps to create notifications for “New video by you”

How does social media impact my child's mental health?

Negatives

  • Anxiety & depression
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Body image concerns
  • Cyberbullying

Positives

  • Emotional support
  • Community building
  • Self-expression and self-identity
  • Develop a plan

Are photo editing apps harming my child's self esteem?

  • Apps like Facetune make it easy for users to change their physical appearance which can encourage unhealthy expectations for body image
  • When tweens and teens scroll through social media they can come across images they think are authentic, when in reality they’ve been manipulated with photo editing apps
  • These photo editing apps can promote unattainable beauty standards

How can I help my child stop comparing themselves to others on Instagram?

  • People typically post their highlight reel on Instagram, not their struggles or failures
  • Remind your children that Instagram content is curated and planned. Most of the images that they see have been carefully selected and edited to appear a certain way
  • Help your child understand that their self-worth should never be tied to likes or followers
  • Teach your children that being themselves, showing gratitude, and being positive on social media will get them closer to their dreams than chasing after validation and likes

How can I keep my kids safe on Snapchat?

  • Download Snapchat and become an expert so you can monitor your student on the app and keep them safe
  • Know your child’s username, get involved, have discussions, and monitor their Snaps
  • Make your student the expert and have them teach you more about how it works and how they use it

Is Snapchat tracking my kid's location and sharing it with strangers?

  • A feature called “Snap Map” allows users to share their location on a map for their followers to track
  • If your student is friends with strangers on Snapchat then there is a chance those strangers can locate your child using Snap Map
  • <<< Watch the video to learn how to turn off the SnapMap feature!

What is a Snapchat Streak (and why is it addictive for students)?

  • Many apps that are popular with teens will “gamify” the experience in order to encourage their users to use the app regularly. For example, Snapchat “gamifies” their app with Streaks:
  • A Streak is given to users who have sent each other Snaps consistently for two days or more
  • A fire emoji (🔥) will appear next to a friend’s name along with a number. This indicates that you are on a Streak and the number indicates how many days the Streak has been going
  • Students work hard to keep their streaks going each day

How can I keep my kids safe on Fortnite?

  • Be on Fortnite with your student. Make sure to play from time to time with them, and know who is talking with them online
  • Check in often with their gameplay. Children are more likely to stay safe online when their parents check in regularly (both in person and via a regular dialog with them)
  • Set game time limits and consider using a visual timer, like an egg timer or phone timer, to track how much time your children have left to play

How do predators use social media to target victims?

  • One method predators use to target victims on social media is called  catfishing. Catfishing is when someone creates a fake identity on a social network with the intention of deceiving a specific victim. It’s common for predators to pose as tweens and teens in order to make contact
  • Another method predators use to target victims on social media is called grooming. Grooming is when a predator prepares a victim for a meeting, with the intention of committing a sexual offense

Is it okay for my kids to be anonymous online or use anonymous apps?

  • No! When students use an app in anonymous mode (without it being tied to their real identity) they tend to behave badly (and it doesn’t contribute to them building anything that will help them get into college)
  • Anonymous apps, like Tellonym and Whisper, always have inappropriate or unmoderated content, are more prone to cyberbullying, and can be used as tools for predators to target victims

How can I prevent my kids from spending money on apps?

  • Create a family cell phone agreement that outlines what your children can spend money on and the repercussions of overspending
  • Restrict access on your child’s device so that they can’t install/download new apps or make in-app purchases without your permission
  • Keep an open dialogue about social media trends, apps, and screen time

The Social Media Tipping Point (Josh’s “Four C’s”):

Good Side of Social

  • Connecting with others (making friends)
  • Communicating with them
  • ~Texting
  • ~Emailing
  • ~Direct Messaging

Bad Side of Social

  • Consuming time
  • ~Scrolling in our feed
  • ~Watching Snaps when we’re bored
  • ~Filling our time with Instagram and Snapchat
  • Comparing ourselves

How can I restrict app purchases on iPhones?

Setting up restrictions on iPhones and Apple devices:

  • Settings > General
  • Restrictions > Enable Restrictions
  • Turn off iTunes Store, installing apps, deleting apps (optional), and in-app purchases

How can I restrict app purchases on Android devices?

Setting up restrictions on Android devices:

  • Google Play Store > Menu > Settings
  • Select “Require authentication for purchases”
  • Select “For all purchases through Google Play on this device”

Is it bad to allow an app to access your contacts?

  • Yes, uploading your contacts to an app is bad. When you give an app access to your contacts, the app can use your relationships to send messages on your behalf (without your permission)
  • Since the message is coming from your cell phone number (and name), most of your contacts will believe that the message is genuine and that you are sending them this message
  • Once you grant an app access to your contacts, you can never get them back -- even if you delete the app

Where do your kids go when they see something bad on social media?

  • It’s not IF, but rather WHEN your kids will see something bad online. Often, kids will get quiet, anxious, or go to their friends for advice
  • We want them to go to their PARENTS when something happens
  • If you (the parents) join the same apps as your kids (and you follow them and monitor them as a follower) they are more inclined to come to you and tell you when something is wrong
  • PARENTS (and their surrounding community of trusted adults) are the best safety app that will be able to protect their kids

Are my kids at risk of encountering online predators?

  • The best way to keep your kids safe from online predators is to have a regular dialogue with your kids and use the same apps they are on and monitor their activity frequently
  • Ensure that your children understand that they should never share personal information with strangers -- especially online

How common is cyberbullying?

  • Over half of tweens and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying
  • If your child actively uses social media or a cell phone, it is likely that they will encounter or partake in cyberbullying behavior

Screen Time & Parental Monitoring FAQs

How do I get ahead of my kids on social media?

Don’t give up!
Be on the same apps as your children. Learn about popular teen social media trends before your students. Have your children teach you about their favorite social networks and apps.

How can I monitor my kids online without spying on them?

  • Using the same apps as your children is the best way to learn. This gives you an idea of what the app does and how your child may use it
  • Follow your child but consider not commenting or liking their content online, just talk in real life
  • Use Google regularly to review your child’s digital footprint and find out who has been posting under your student's name

How can I monitor my kids online without spying on them?

  • Using the same apps as your children is the best way to learn. This gives you an idea of what the app does and how your child may use it
  • Follow your child but consider not commenting or liking their content online, just talk in real life
  • Use Google regularly to review your child’s digital footprint and find out who has been posting under your student's name

How can I regulate my student's screen time without an argument?

  • Model positive screen time behaviors for your children
  • Create a screen time schedule as a family and explain why certain times are better left screen-free (e.g. dinner time, 1 hour before bed)
  • Include your children in the process of creating screen time guidelines, this will help them develop the skill to self-regulate their own screen time

How can I teach my kids to self-regulate their screen time?

  • Set screen time guidelines and explain WHY these guidelines are being set and what happens if they don’t follow your screen time limits
  • Use visual timers to help your child develop the skill of self-regulating their screen time (and the timer will deliver the bad news, not the parent)
  • When kids know why they need to limit their screen time and they have a visual timer to let them know how much time they have left, they begin to develop the ability to self-regulate screen time on their own

How much screen time is okay for my kids?

  • Our suggestions are:
  • Ages 0-2: Occasional Facetime/video calls with relatives
  • Ages 2-5: Less than 1 hour/day, always monitored by parents, only parent approved content, and no social media
  • Age 6-13: Follow the same rules as age 2-5 but consider letting them earn more screen time based on household contributions
  • Age 14+: Create a social media plan that outlines your family’s screen time limits.
  • Write the plan as a family and ensure that your kids understand the consequences of breaking their screen time limits

How does screen time addiction impact students?

Excessive screen time can cause:

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Negative self image
  • Predators can contact your kids easier
  • Identity theft
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Digital self-harm
  • Damaging your student’s future resume/Google results forever...

How can I tell if my kid is addicted to screen time?

  • They don’t have the ability to control their screen time (e.g. frequency, intensity, duration)
  • They prioritize screen time to the extent that it takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities
  • Despite negative consequences they continue to use their screens
  • They cannot be separated from their device without getting upset

What can I do if my child is addicted to screen time?

Being actively involved in your child’s digital life will make it easier to spot any red flags that may arise and start a dialog. Help your child find other activities they enjoy. Establish screen time guidelines and follow them as a family. Create tech-free zones at home. Regularly dialog with your children about screen time.

How do I prevent my child from becoming addicted to technology?

  • Set screen time limits and stick to them as a family
  • Have a dialog. Talk to your kids and ensure they understand why you set certain screen time limits
  • Create screen-free zones at home. Don’t let your kids take their devices into their bedroom. Limit it to common areas, while being supervised
  • Help students find offline activities they enjoy. Encourage your student to find offline activities they would be proud to share on social media (their new resume)

How do I know who my kids are talking to online?

It’s almost impossible to know...
But, by being on the same apps that your children use, and setting up your own accounts and monitoring their activity, you’ll have a better relationship online. Know where the private messaging feature is on their favorite apps.

How do I protect my kids from inappropriate content online?

Start with a healthy dialog about what good and bad parts of the internet look like. Remind your kids they can always come to you if they see anything inappropriate (and that you will listen and not judge them).

Could my child be interacting with an online troll?

  • A “troll” is someone who deliberately uses the internet to provoke others (usually by being anonymous). Trolling isn't necessarily focused on insulting others or being rude, it's more about tricking people into believing something false or playing pranks
  • Some students troll online, thinking it’s funny. If your child is “trolling” someone on social media, talk to them about their digital footprint and the impact it can have on their future opportunities
  • Remind your children that everything they post online is permanent - even if it was meant to be a joke

How can my child have a digital footprint if I don’t allow them to be on social media?

Work with your students to set screen time guidelines. We suggest:

  • Schedule screen time that works with your family
  • No devices during dinner or homework
  • Create a tech-free hour before bed

How can I reinforce healthy screen time behaviors for my kids?

  • Lead by example and model positive screen time behaviors. Become your kids’ digital role model
  • Create “screen-free zones” in your house. For example, no screens during dinner or after bed time
  • Manage screen time as a family and brainstorm ways you can spend time together without looking at your devices

My kids are sharing too much on social media! What can I do?

  • Register for Footprint Friday and show your children how much of their actions end up online
  • Remind your children to only share things relevant to their student resume on social media
  • If they really need to vent, teach them to use text messages to contact a friend. That way, they’re getting advice and comfort from a real person that they know

What can I do if my student is being cyberbullied?

  • Be supportive and remind them they’re not alone
  • Avoid minimizing, rationalizing, or explaining bullying behavior
  • Teach them to report bullying to a trusted adult
  • Work with them to try and solve the problem together

What is self harm? And why do students participate in it?

  • Self harm is the act of purposely causing physical harm to oneself. It usually happens without the intent to die — that is, not as a suicide attempt
  • There are many different types of self-harm, which cause varying degrees of damage. All forms should be taken seriously

Source: Crisis Text Line

Self-harming behavior can be triggered by a number of factors. Understanding the reason someone is hurting themselves is often an important step to supporting them. Reasons may include:

  • Coping with stress or negative feelings
  • To feel something physical
  • Sense of control
  • Self-punishment
  • Expressing emotion

Support lines and services:

  • Crisis Text Line: Text HELP to 741741 to talk to a trained Crisis Counselor in the US or 686868 in Canada
  • Crisis Call Center: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Lifeline Crisis Chat: CrisisChat.org
  • NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI

How can I limit my child's internet usage?

  • Create a screen time schedule. Decide what hours of the day your family can use their devices (and try to model positive behavior by following these guidelines)
  • Set time limits and use a visual timer. Using visual timers help students understand how much time has passed
  • Keep devices and computers in public spaces. Don’t let your children have access to technology without supervision
  • Allow your kids to earn screen time. By performing household tasks/chores, kids can earn screen time.

How can I set parental controls on a PlayStation?

  • Go to [Settings] > [Parental Controls/Family Management] > [Family Management]
  • Select the user you want to set restrictions for, then select [Applications/Devices/Network Features] under the Parental Controls section
  • Choose whether to allow a child family member to communicate with other players on PSN or view content created by other players

How to set monthly spending limits:

  • Go to [Settings] > [Parental Controls/Family Management] > [Family Management]
  • Select the user you want to set a spending limit for, then select [Applications/Devices/Network Features] under the Parental Controls section
  • Select 'Monthly Spending Limit' and insert your spending limit

How can I set parental controls on an Xbox?

  • On your console, go to Settings, and then select Family
  • Select the name of the child whose settings you want to adjust
  • Under Privacy & Online Settings, select Change Settings
  • Update the settings and then exit the screen to save

To set game time limits (called the Family Timer):

  • On your console, go to Settings, and then select Family
  • Select On to turn on Console Safety
  • Enter a 4-button pass code using your controller
  • Select Family Timer
  • Select whether you want to set a Daily or Weekly timer
  • Move down to the time period and use the left stick to increase or decrease the time period, then select Continue.
  • Select Save and Exit

Why are multiplayer games with headsets unsafe?

  • When you kids play multiplayer games while wearing headsets, they’re a million miles away - even if you’re sitting in the same room as them
  • When students chat through multiplayer games, they can come across inappropriate language and bullying behavior
  • Most multiplayer games match random users together for a match, so the likelihood of your children chatting with strangers is high when they’re wearing a headset

Building a Positive Online Footprint FAQs

What age should a student be on social media?

Ages 0-13: Private
Ages 13: Have a family discussion regarding what should go public
Age 14-15: Build a personal website and post positive volunteer photos (and accomplishments/projects) online
Age 17: Colleges should be able to find a positive online footprint for your student

How can I teach my kids to use social media in a positive way?

  • Give your student a purpose on social media
  • Teach your students to use social media to show off their school projects, hobbies, volunteer work, or family photos
  • Consider working with your student to determine 3 things they want to be known for when colleges or employers search for them online

Why should middle school students care about their online reputation?

  • Even if your kids don’t use social media, people with similar names will have an impact on their online reputation (for better or worse)
  • If your kids are online (or borrow your phone), everything they do lives on in their digital footprint, from their YouTube comments to pictures they’re tagged in on Instagram
  • If your kids don’t start planning their digital footprint in middle school, they can miss out on future opportunities and fall into the trap of using social media as a pastime without a purpose

How do I get my kids to care about their online reputation?

  • Remind your kids that:
  • Everything you do online lives on in the public sphere
  • Colleges and future employers will usually search for students online and look at their digital footprint
  • People will rarely tell you if your post on social media offends them or raises eyebrows—but it will change their actions towards you in the future

How can middle school kids use screen time productively?

  • Help your children find a purpose during screen time. Encourage them to pick 2-3 things they want to be known for when people find them online
  • ~E.g.: Volunteering, sports, school clubs, positive hobbies, school projects, etc...
  • Work with them to create a repository of their achievements that they can one day share on social media
  • ~Save positive photos, project descriptions, relevant links, and teacher recommendations in a folder -- this will become content they share on social media when they’re ready

How can teens can use Instagram in a positive way?

When you’re ready for your student to be on social media, encourage them to use Instagram as a portfolio of their accomplishments. Brainstorm with your student and come up with 3 things they want to be known for when people look them up online. Teach them to post content around what they want to be known for and to always use a little positivity or gratitude in every post.

How can my teen use social media for college applications?

  • Start with Instagram: It can be used to their advantage in the college and career application process
  • Work with your student to decide what their Purpose, Projects and Pastimes they want colleges or future employers
  • Encourage your teen to brand their Instagram profile with content that showcases these areas of focus
  • Remind your teen to keep their captions positive and full of gratitude

Social Media Apps & Cell Phone Safety FAQs

When should I give my kids a cell phone?

Our suggestions:

  • Ages 0-10: No phone
  • Ages 10-13: Flip phone (SMS/text, phone calls)
  • Age 13: Cell phone safety contract
  • Age 14: Smartphone (without social media apps installed)
  • Age 15: Smartphone (with social media apps installed)

Why is a flip phone a good starting place for kids?

  • Flip phones offer students the chance to connect and communicate (without the down side of social media consuming their time and comparing them to others)
  • Without apps on your child’s phone you can monitor their activity, review their phone bill to see who/when they’re texting and calling, and prevent them from talking to strangers
  • Flip phones encourage real conversations via phone (because texting is a little harder with the keypad limitations)

My kids want social media but they're not ready for it, what can I do?

  • Help your children determine 2-3 things they want to be known for when colleges/future employers search for them online (e.g. volunteering, hobbies, school projects)
  • Encourage them to start taking positive pictures and writing descriptions about the projects they’re working on
  • Create a folder and save their work because it will be positive content they can share once you’re ready for them to be on social media and develop a website

Should I ban social media?

Banning technology won’t help prepare your children for their future. Instead, we recommend giving them limited access to screens, monitoring their activity, and having regular digital safety discussions together.

How can I find someone’s second/secret Instagram account? (Aka: Spam/Finstagram)

  • Get your child’s phone
  • Open their Instagram
  • Hold down the profile photo icon in the lower right of Instagram
  • Alternate usernames may appear - these are their other accounts

How do kids hide their activity from their parent's phone bill?

  • Most apps have a direct messaging feature which allows user to chat in private using their phone’s data plan (without showing up on their parent’s phone bill)
  • When kids use messaging apps or social media on their phones the activity from that app doesn’t appear on their parent’s phone bill like regular text messages and calls will
  • Parents MUST be on the same apps their students are using so they can monitor behavior

How can I find hidden apps on someone’s phone?

Find all hidden apps on an iPhone:

  • Open the App Store on your child’s phone
  • Click “Updates” in the bottom right corner
  • Select “Purchased
  • Click “My Purchases
  • This is where you can access and review every app your student has ever downloaded

Android phone instructions:

  • Open the Google Play Store (on your child’s phone and ensure you are on the homepage)
  • Select the 3 line icon (...) next to the search bar
  • Click on “My Apps & Games
  • Select the “All” tab
  • This is where you can access and review every app your student has ever downloaded

How do I know what my kids are doing on their phones?

Some apps share posts online and it could change your student’s digital footprint for college. Use Google to monitor your student weekly and have a dialog about what you find in their search results to help them set a plan for their future.

Do I need to be on the same apps as my kids?

  • Yes! You are the best at protecting your kids online (not a parental control app)
  • When parents use the same apps as their kids, they become familiar with how the app works, how children may be using the app to hide activity from their parents, who your children are talking to, and how they behave on social media
  • Being on the same apps as your kids gives you the opportunity to monitor their activity as it’s happening (as opposed to waiting for an incident to happen)

Should my child use their real name on social media?

  • Yes, but it’s important that your kids stay private until they are old enough to be on social media. Our recommendation is that students don’t start using social until they’re at least 14 and have planned their online brand with a parent
  • Once your student has showcased that they are ready to be responsible online, help them set up a social media account on one of the apps in our Green Zone using their real name. This will help them develop a positive digital footprint

Should I know my kids' social media passwords?

  • Yes! Parents should have their kids’ passwords. Younger kids should be aware that their parents can monitor their activity at any time
  • If your teen has showcased their ability to use screen time responsibly, create a sealed envelope that has their passwords for all of their social media accounts and only open it if needed (but make them promise they will not change, or share, their passwords)
  • We recommend using a password manager as a family.Password managers allow you to create random, unique passwords for each site you use to ensure the password is as secure as possible.

How do I get my kids off their phones?

  • Teach your students how to use their phone with a purpose (instead of as a pastime)
  • Turning their social media accounts into a portfolio gets them creating a positive online footprint for their future, instead of scrolling through other people’s posts

What can I do to encourage my child to use their phone less?

  • Set screen time guidelines and explain the guidelines to your children. Ensure they understand the consequences of exceeding their screen time limits
  • Find positive offline activities they enjoy
  • Encourage them to spend time doing these activities so that they can create content to share when they’re ready to be on social media

Should I follow my kids on Instagram and social media?

  • Yes. Be aware of the apps your kids use and have your own account on each platform. Spend some time using the app and determine if it’s safe for your family
  • Follow your kids but don’t engage with their posts. It’s important to follow your kids on social media so you can monitor their activity and see who they’re talking to online
  • Regularly monitor their accounts and talk to your children about their social media activity

How do I get notified every time my child posts to Instagram?

  • This strategy only works if you have use your child’s Instagram username and password info (not your username):
  • Create an account on IFTTT.com
  • Connect Instagram to IFTTT.com (your student’s login info)
  • Tell IFTTT to email you every time there is a new photo on your student’s account
  • Tell your student you’re doing this so they don’t find it sneaky
  • Also remove any other apps that have access to your student’s account
  • Click “My Applets” then click “New Applet”
  • Click “+ This” (the blue text)
  • Type “Instagram” into “Choose a service”  
  • Click the Instagram option
  • Click “New photo by you”
  • Click “+ That” (the blue text)
  • Click the email option (blue box below “Choose a service”)
  • Click “Send me an email”
  • Click “Create an action” (you don’t need to adjust anything in the email)
  • Click “Finish”
  • Follow the same steps to create notifications for “New video by you”

How does social media impact my child's mental health?

Negatives

  • Anxiety & depression
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Body image concerns
  • Cyberbullying

Positives

  • Emotional support
  • Community building
  • Self-expression and self-identity
  • Develop a plan

Are photo editing apps harming my child's self esteem?

  • Apps like Facetune make it easy for users to change their physical appearance which can encourage unhealthy expectations for body image
  • When tweens and teens scroll through social media they can come across images they think are authentic, when in reality they’ve been manipulated with photo editing apps
  • These photo editing apps can promote unattainable beauty standards

How can I help my child stop comparing themselves to others on Instagram?

  • People typically post their highlight reel on Instagram, not their struggles or failures
  • Remind your children that Instagram content is curated and planned. Most of the images that they see have been carefully selected and edited to appear a certain way
  • Help your child understand that their self-worth should never be tied to likes or followers
  • Teach your children that being themselves, showing gratitude, and being positive on social media will get them closer to their dreams than chasing after validation and likes

How can I keep my kids safe on Snapchat?

  • Download Snapchat and become an expert so you can monitor your student on the app and keep them safe
  • Know your child’s username, get involved, have discussions, and monitor their Snaps
  • Make your student the expert and have them teach you more about how it works and how they use it

Is Snapchat tracking my kid's location and sharing it with strangers?

  • A feature called “Snap Map” allows users to share their location on a map for their followers to track
  • If your student is friends with strangers on Snapchat then there is a chance those strangers can locate your child using Snap Map
  • <<< Watch the video to learn how to turn off the SnapMap feature!

What is a Snapchat Streak (and why is it addictive for students)?

  • Many apps that are popular with teens will “gamify” the experience in order to encourage their users to use the app regularly. For example, Snapchat “gamifies” their app with Streaks:
  • A Streak is given to users who have sent each other Snaps consistently for two days or more
  • A fire emoji (🔥) will appear next to a friend’s name along with a number. This indicates that you are on a Streak and the number indicates how many days the Streak has been going
  • Students work hard to keep their streaks going each day

How can I keep my kids safe on Fortnite?

  • Be on Fortnite with your student. Make sure to play from time to time with them, and know who is talking with them online
  • Check in often with their gameplay. Children are more likely to stay safe online when their parents check in regularly (both in person and via a regular dialog with them)
  • Set game time limits and consider using a visual timer, like an egg timer or phone timer, to track how much time your children have left to play

How do predators use social media to target victims?

  • One method predators use to target victims on social media is called  catfishing. Catfishing is when someone creates a fake identity on a social network with the intention of deceiving a specific victim. It’s common for predators to pose as tweens and teens in order to make contact
  • Another method predators use to target victims on social media is called grooming. Grooming is when a predator prepares a victim for a meeting, with the intention of committing a sexual offense

Is it okay for my kids to be anonymous online or use anonymous apps?

  • No! When students use an app in anonymous mode (without it being tied to their real identity) they tend to behave badly (and it doesn’t contribute to them building anything that will help them get into college)
  • Anonymous apps, like Tellonym and Whisper, always have inappropriate or unmoderated content, are more prone to cyberbullying, and can be used as tools for predators to target victims

How can I prevent my kids from spending money on apps?

  • Create a family cell phone agreement that outlines what your children can spend money on and the repercussions of overspending
  • Restrict access on your child’s device so that they can’t install/download new apps or make in-app purchases without your permission
  • Keep an open dialogue about social media trends, apps, and screen time

The Social Media Tipping Point (Josh’s “Four C’s”):

Good Side of Social

  • Connecting with others (making friends)
  • Communicating with them
  • ~Texting
  • ~Emailing
  • ~Direct Messaging

Bad Side of Social

  • Consuming time
  • ~Scrolling in our feed
  • ~Watching Snaps when we’re bored
  • ~Filling our time with Instagram and Snapchat
  • Comparing ourselves

How can I restrict app purchases on iPhones?

Setting up restrictions on iPhones and Apple devices:

  • Settings > General
  • Restrictions > Enable Restrictions
  • Turn off iTunes Store, installing apps, deleting apps (optional), and in-app purchases

How can I restrict app purchases on Android devices?

Setting up restrictions on Android devices:

  • Google Play Store > Menu > Settings
  • Select “Require authentication for purchases”
  • Select “For all purchases through Google Play on this device”

Is it bad to allow an app to access your contacts?

  • Yes, uploading your contacts to an app is bad. When you give an app access to your contacts, the app can use your relationships to send messages on your behalf (without your permission)
  • Since the message is coming from your cell phone number (and name), most of your contacts will believe that the message is genuine and that you are sending them this message
  • Once you grant an app access to your contacts, you can never get them back -- even if you delete the app

Where do your kids go when they see something bad on social media?

  • It’s not IF, but rather WHEN your kids will see something bad online. Often, kids will get quiet, anxious, or go to their friends for advice
  • We want them to go to their PARENTS when something happens
  • If you (the parents) join the same apps as your kids (and you follow them and monitor them as a follower) they are more inclined to come to you and tell you when something is wrong
  • PARENTS (and their surrounding community of trusted adults) are the best safety app that will be able to protect their kids

Are my kids at risk of encountering online predators?

  • The best way to keep your kids safe from online predators is to have a regular dialogue with your kids and use the same apps they are on and monitor their activity frequently
  • Ensure that your children understand that they should never share personal information with strangers -- especially online

How common is cyberbullying?

  • Over half of tweens and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyberbullying
  • If your child actively uses social media or a cell phone, it is likely that they will encounter or partake in cyberbullying behavior

Screen Time & Parental Monitoring FAQs

How do I get ahead of my kids on social media?

Don’t give up!
Be on the same apps as your children. Learn about popular teen social media trends before your students. Have your children teach you about their favorite social networks and apps.

How can I monitor my kids online without spying on them?

  • Using the same apps as your children is the best way to learn. This gives you an idea of what the app does and how your child may use it
  • Follow your child but consider not commenting or liking their content online, just talk in real life
  • Use Google regularly to review your child’s digital footprint and find out who has been posting under your student's name

How can I regulate my student's screen time without an argument?

  • Model positive screen time behaviors for your children
  • Create a screen time schedule as a family and explain why certain times are better left screen-free (e.g. dinner time, 1 hour before bed)
  • Include your children in the process of creating screen time guidelines, this will help them develop the skill to self-regulate their own screen time

How can I teach my kids to self-regulate their screen time?

  • Set screen time guidelines and explain WHY these guidelines are being set and what happens if they don’t follow your screen time limits
  • Use visual timers to help your child develop the skill of self-regulating their screen time (and the timer will deliver the bad news, not the parent)
  • When kids know why they need to limit their screen time and they have a visual timer to let them know how much time they have left, they begin to develop the ability to self-regulate screen time on their own

How much screen time is okay for my kids?

  • Our suggestions are:
  • Ages 0-2: Occasional Facetime/video calls with relatives
  • Ages 2-5: Less than 1 hour/day, always monitored by parents, only parent approved content, and no social media
  • Age 6-13: Follow the same rules as age 2-5 but consider letting them earn more screen time based on household contributions
  • Age 14+: Create a social media plan that outlines your family’s screen time limits.
  • Write the plan as a family and ensure that your kids understand the consequences of breaking their screen time limits

How does screen time addiction impact students?

Excessive screen time can cause:

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Negative self image
  • Predators can contact your kids easier
  • Identity theft
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Digital self-harm
  • Damaging your student’s future resume/Google results forever...

How can I tell if my kid is addicted to screen time?

  • They don’t have the ability to control their screen time (e.g. frequency, intensity, duration)
  • They prioritize screen time to the extent that it takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities
  • Despite negative consequences they continue to use their screens
  • They cannot be separated from their device without getting upset

What can I do if my child is addicted to screen time?

Being actively involved in your child’s digital life will make it easier to spot any red flags that may arise and start a dialog. Help your child find other activities they enjoy. Establish screen time guidelines and follow them as a family. Create tech-free zones at home. Regularly dialog with your children about screen time.

How do I prevent my child from becoming addicted to technology?

  • Set screen time limits and stick to them as a family
  • Have a dialog. Talk to your kids and ensure they understand why you set certain screen time limits
  • Create screen-free zones at home. Don’t let your kids take their devices into their bedroom. Limit it to common areas, while being supervised
  • Help students find offline activities they enjoy. Encourage your student to find offline activities they would be proud to share on social media (their new resume)

How do I know who my kids are talking to online?

It’s almost impossible to know...
But, by being on the same apps that your children use, and setting up your own accounts and monitoring their activity, you’ll have a better relationship online. Know where the private messaging feature is on their favorite apps.

How do I protect my kids from inappropriate content online?

Start with a healthy dialog about what good and bad parts of the internet look like. Remind your kids they can always come to you if they see anything inappropriate (and that you will listen and not judge them).

Could my child be interacting with an online troll?

  • A “troll” is someone who deliberately uses the internet to provoke others (usually by being anonymous). Trolling isn't necessarily focused on insulting others or being rude, it's more about tricking people into believing something false or playing pranks
  • Some students troll online, thinking it’s funny. If your child is “trolling” someone on social media, talk to them about their digital footprint and the impact it can have on their future opportunities
  • Remind your children that everything they post online is permanent - even if it was meant to be a joke

How can my child have a digital footprint if I don’t allow them to be on social media?

Almost all of our actions end up online. It’s almost impossible to search for something on Google and get zero results (especially if your student has a common name, because other people will clutter their digital footprint). Sometimes students mean well but they accidentally share info online that appears in their digital footprint. It’s important to regularly check their digital footprint, even if they don’t use social media.


How can I prevent social media from distracting my kids from their homework?

Work with your students to set screen time guidelines. We suggest:

  • Schedule screen time that works with your family
  • No devices during dinner or homework
  • Create a tech-free hour before bed

How can I reinforce healthy screen time behaviors for my kids?

  • Lead by example and model positive screen time behaviors. Become your kids’ digital role model
  • Create “screen-free zones” in your house. For example, no screens during dinner or after bed time
  • Manage screen time as a family and brainstorm ways you can spend time together without looking at your devices

My kids are sharing too much on social media! What can I do?

  • Remind your children to only share things relevant to their student resume on social media
  • If they really need to vent, teach them to use text messages to contact a friend. That way, they’re getting advice and comfort from a real person that they know

What can I do if my student is being cyberbullied?

  • Be supportive and remind them they’re not alone
  • Avoid minimizing, rationalizing, or explaining bullying behavior
  • Teach them to report bullying to a trusted adult
  • Work with them to try and solve the problem together

What is self harm? And why do students participate in it?

How can I limit my child's internet usage?

  • Create a screen time schedule. Decide what hours of the day your family can use their devices (and try to model positive behavior by following these guidelines)
  • Set time limits and use a visual timer. Using visual timers help students understand how much time has passed
  • Keep devices and computers in public spaces. Don’t let your children have access to technology without supervision
  • Allow your kids to earn screen time. By performing household tasks/chores, kids can earn screen time.

How can I set parental controls on a PlayStation?

  • Go to [Settings] > [Parental Controls/Family Management] > [Family Management]
  • Select the user you want to set restrictions for, then select [Applications/Devices/Network Features] under the Parental Controls section
  • Choose whether to allow a child family member to communicate with other players on PSN or view content created by other players

How to set monthly spending limits:

  • Go to [Settings] > [Parental Controls/Family Management] > [Family Management]
  • Select the user you want to set a spending limit for, then select [Applications/Devices/Network Features] under the Parental Controls section
  • Select 'Monthly Spending Limit' and insert your spending limit

How can I set parental controls on an Xbox?

  • On your console, go to Settings, and then select Family
  • Select the name of the child whose settings you want to adjust
  • Under Privacy & Online Settings, select Change Settings
  • Update the settings and then exit the screen to save

To set game time limits (called the Family Timer):

  • On your console, go to Settings, and then select Family
  • Select On to turn on Console Safety
  • Enter a 4-button pass code using your controller
  • Select Family Timer
  • Select whether you want to set a Daily or Weekly timer
  • Move down to the time period and use the left stick to increase or decrease the time period, then select Continue.
  • Select Save and Exit

Why are multiplayer games with headsets unsafe?

  • When you kids play multiplayer games while wearing headsets, they’re a million miles away - even if you’re sitting in the same room as them
  • When students chat through multiplayer games, they can come across inappropriate language and bullying behavior
  • Most multiplayer games match random users together for a match, so the likelihood of your children chatting with strangers is high when they’re wearing a headset

Building a Positive Online Footprint FAQs

What age should a student be on social media?

Ages 0-13: Private
Ages 13: Have a family discussion regarding what should go public
Age 14-15: Build a personal website and post positive volunteer photos (and accomplishments/projects) online
Age 17: Colleges should be able to find a positive online footprint for your student

How can I teach my kids to use social media in a positive way?

  • Give your student a purpose on social media
  • Teach your students to use social media to show off their school projects, hobbies, volunteer work, or family photos
  • Consider working with your student to determine 3 things they want to be known for when colleges or employers search for them online

Why should middle school students care about their online reputation?

  • Even if your kids don’t use social media, people with similar names will have an impact on their online reputation (for better or worse)
  • If your kids are online (or borrow your phone), everything they do lives on in their digital footprint, from their YouTube comments to pictures they’re tagged in on Instagram
  • If your kids don’t start planning their digital footprint in middle school, they can miss out on future opportunities and fall into the trap of using social media as a pastime without a purpose

How do I get my kids to care about their online reputation?

  • Remind your kids that:
  • Everything you do online lives on in the public sphere
  • Colleges and future employers will usually search for students online and look at their digital footprint
  • People will rarely tell you if your post on social media offends them or raises eyebrows—but it will change their actions towards you in the future

How can middle school kids use screen time productively?

  • Help your children find a purpose during screen time. Encourage them to pick 2-3 things they want to be known for when people find them online
  • ~E.g.: Volunteering, sports, school clubs, positive hobbies, school projects, etc...
  • Work with them to create a repository of their achievements that they can one day share on social media
  • ~Save positive photos, project descriptions, relevant links, and teacher recommendations in a folder -- this will become content they share on social media when they’re ready

How can teens can use Instagram in a positive way?

When you’re ready for your student to be on social media, encourage them to use Instagram as a portfolio of their accomplishments. Brainstorm with your student and come up with 3 things they want to be known for when people look them up online. Teach them to post content around what they want to be known for and to always use a little positivity or gratitude in every post.

How can my teen use social media for college applications?

  • Start with Instagram: It can be used to their advantage in the college and career application process
  • Work with your student to decide what their Purpose, Projects and Pastimes they want colleges or future employers
  • Encourage your teen to brand their Instagram profile with content that showcases these areas of focus
  • Remind your teen to keep their captions positive and full of gratitude