10 Instagram & Snapchat Safety Tips for Families

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April 18, 2022

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!

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Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.

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This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.

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Table of Contents

With the popularity of Snapchat and Instagram always on the rise, many parents are looking for ways to keep their children safe on these social media apps.

So, we asked 10 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, how to spot a scam, and how to discuss online safety.

Angela Roeber headshot
Angela Roeber

1. Become familiar with the platforms your students use

Angela Roeber, Project Harmony

Get tech savvy. Even if you are not a social media 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.

Elizabeth Hick

2. Online users aren’t who you think they are: Catfishing lessons

Elizabeth Hick, Founder, Parenting Nerd LLC

Once a student randomly came up to me and shared how she had been talking to a peer of her’s on Instagram. She talked about how they were really chummy online, but he would never acknowledge her in person, as if he didn’t even know her. This started to feel fishy, so she decided to confront her online friend. But later, after talking to him, she realized that it was a catfish account.

In reality, someone had stolen the picture of her peer and was trapping young teenagers into opening up about their personal problems. Later, the catfish would use this personal information as blackmail against naive kids. So, I suggested that she report this account immediately and not share anything else.

I talked to all of my students about catfishing and how common it has become in today’s day and age. I taught them how impersonating someone may not be illegal, but what the individual does after can be, such as blackmail. I provided them important links to report such fraudulent activity online like this one.

Kristen Bolig

3. Scams are everywhere: Even on “Snaps” and “Grams”

Kristen Bolig, CEO, SecurityNerd

I think it’s really important to teach kids how to spot scams on social media. Getting a phishing DM will happen to everyone at one time or another, so it is best to give them the tools to know how to spot it instead of just trying to keep them from using social media altogether. 

You should also let them know that you are a safe resource for them, and if they ever have any questions about messages they receive or things they encounter over social media, they can always come to you and you will help them.

Brandon Walsh

4. Notice when something is “off”

Brandon Walsh, Dads Agree

Instagram and Snapchat are extremely popular social media platforms among my students and I often observe these kids being sucked into the black hole that is the social media world. Recently, a student of mine faced a major challenge on Instagram. She suddenly wasn’t performing well in class.

I reached out to her and asked what was wrong. It turned out that Instagram models were getting the best of her. The airbrushed pictures and hourglass figures were something she thought was their reality. 

It was affecting her academic and social life. She was highly disturbed and scrolling through Instagram continuously further deteriorated her mental health and perception of beauty.

I helped her manage the situation by talking to her. I made sure to build that trust with her so she could be comfortable in sharing her feelings with me.

After a couple of conversations, I successfully made her understand that Instagram is fake. People use filters and beauty apps to edit the way they look. My student was able to grasp this and felt much better. But, I still advised her to seek professional help to deal with stress and body image issues.

Austin Luliano

5. Teach teens how to be responsible online

Austin Luliano, Social Media Marketing Consultant

Educate teens about what is right and wrong for online activities. When students 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.

Karen Monahan headshot
Karen Monaha

6. Everything online is public and permanent

Karen Monahan, 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 permanent - and it will be out there forever. It’s not realistic to think a private message will stay private.

7. Explain the repercussions of oversharing on social

Andy Wood, TocoMail

To keep your students 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, or with another device – which means that users who are tempted to share explicit content are in great danger. Talking to them about the potential repercussions is crucial!

Candi Wingate headshot
Candi Wingate

8. Get involved

Candi Wingate, NannyLane

To help keep students 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.

Frank Lee headshot
Frank Lee

9. Decide who gets to see your teen’s pictures on Instagram and Snapchat

Frank Lee, Rebates Zone

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
  • Even 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
Tom Kersting headshot
Tom Kerstin

10. Delay access to social media

Tom Kersting, Family Counselor

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.

Conclusion

Instagram and Snapchat can be a fun place for students to connect with their friends and family. Teaching them the skills to be safe while having fun will result in good habits and critical thinking.

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