According to a recent study from HubSpot, 52% of teens use Instagram and nearly as many (41%) use Snapchat. With the popularity of these apps on the rise, many parents are looking for ways to keep their children safe on Instagram and Snapchat. So we asked 7 experts to share their best Instagram and Snapchat safety advice. Learn how you can teach children how to be responsible online, what to do if your teen shares too much personal information online and how to discuss Instagram and Snapchat safety.
- Become familiar with the platforms your children use
Angela Roeber, Project Harmony, @ProjectHarmony2
Get tech savvy. Even if you are not a Facebook fan, become familiar with the tools and social media platforms your kids are using. Follow their activity and know who their connections are.
Consider setting tech limits. When it comes to kids and technology, children require clear boundaries and an understanding of the appropriate use of technology. Parents need to be not only vigilant about their kids’ online behaviors, but also consistent when it comes to enforcing the rules.
Use tools to filter movies and programming based on ratings, violence, and sexual content. Use tools that restrict access to sites with inappropriate content and monitor whether these settings have been changed. Take your teen’s phone away at bedtime or install sleep functions on the phone so that calls received after a certain hour go directly to voicemail.
Teach teens to not over share. The temptation to post pictures from vacations and parties will be high but it is crucial for older teens to review their digital footprint as they begin to think about college applications.
It is important that we talk with our children and help them understand how to make responsible and safe choices about what they post and/or share. Unfortunately, rumors, threats, and photos can be disseminated via technology very quickly. It is equally important to make sure our kids know where to turn for support if someone ever harasses them.
- Teach teens how to be responsible online
Austin Iuliano, Snapchat Mastery, @AustinIuliano
Educate teens about what is right and wrong for online activities. When children randomly send their phone number or personal data on Snapchat, teach them to show their parents the message. Explain to teens why it isn’t appropriate to share personal information on Snapchat or Instagram. Parents need to be aware that kids have access to everyone and if the parents take the time to educate their kids, 9 times out of 10 the kids will make the right decision.
- Discuss Instagram and Snapchat safety
Karen Monahan, Darkness2Light, @Darkness2Light
We recommend that parents talk to their children about online safety and to discuss the concept of “public and permanent.” Even if a child thinks they are sharing something privately, they must understand that once any content is online, it is shareable and therefore public – and it will be out there forever. It’s not realistic to think a private message will stay private.
To keep your kids safe on social media, teach them not to share information with strangers. –Andy Wood
- Explain the repercussions of oversharing on social
Andy Wood, TocoMail
To keep your kids safe on social media, Snapchat and Instagram included, teach them not to share information with strangers, not to share pictures with anyone outside of the immediate family and to talk to you if they are harassed in any way. This is extremely important, especially considering the anonymity social media users have and how easy it can be for them to harm your children.
For example, Snapchat’s pictures disappear in seconds, but they can be saved in screenshots – which means that children who are tempted to share explicit content are in great danger. Talking to them about the potential repercussions is crucial!
- Get involved
Candi Wingate, Care4Hire, @Care4Hire
To help keep kids safe online you must learn about the Internet. Let’s face it, our kids know more about computers and the Internet than we do. So if you’re not online-savvy, try to get up to speed. Maybe your local library, school or community center offers a course you can take. Get involved. Spend time with your kids when they’re online. Let them get used to the idea that you’re going to be looking over their shoulder. Your kids’ best insurance is your involvement. Educate yourself about parental control tools that can keep your kids safe. Check with your Internet Service Provider to see what parental tools they offer. Ask about “blocking and filtering” software at a computer store or consumer electronics store.
- Decide who gets to see your teen’s pictures on Instagram and Snapchat
Frank Lee, Rebates Zone, @FrankLee84
Instagram and Snapchat are two digital tools that have modified the way we communicate. Instead of typing or recording audio, we just capture a picture. Some parents believe that since Facebook has more adult-themed content that their children will be safer on Instagram and Snapchat. This is not altogether true. To help you keep your child safe on both Instagram and Snapchat:
- Change the privacy setting of your profile from public to private so you will be able to decide who sees your pictures.
- If your profiles are private, do not use your own picture as a profile photo. Knowing your first and last name already gives people a lot of information. Your own picture on your wall will give them even more personal information.
- On Instagram, use the option to turn your location off so nobody can access your real location.
- Delay access to social media
Tom Kersting, Valley Family Counseling, @TomKersting
Social media, particularly for younger children, is a danger zone for their developing self-esteem. The chronic exposure to their peer’s “perfect” life can seep into your child’s subconscious, causing them to become insecure. Just because most parents in your community allow their children access to these sites does not mean you must follow the crowd. Delay access to social media as long as you can.