5 safety tips for parents of teens on social media (though everyone could learn from them)

October 2, 2019

Two weeks ago I casually popped into the Facebook offices to chill and chat, and share some of my social media tips.

Who am I kidding? The only accurate thing is that I was there, but as part of a media group, where they shared insights and tips into safety on Facebook and Instagram.

Me, on the right. Doing what one does when visiting Facebook

Facebook is such a mixed bag for a lot of us, and our kids. It opens us up to incredible connections and content, but there’s quite a bit that we often don’t feel we can control – the type of content we see, plus trolling or hacking.

After the event, Facebook shared some safety info with us about we can help protect our kids online. Though most of us might have kids younger than Facebook-using age, I featured them here anyway, as some of them apply to adults too, for example the safety settings. Many a Facebook stalk has shown me that even grownups have their profiles wide open for people like me to look at all those holiday pics, and all those emo posts.

According to Facebook, they work with external experts, including a Safety Advisory Board, and gather feedback from our community to develop policies, tools and resources to keep users safe. 

“We’ve designed many of our features to remind young people to be aware of who they’re sharing information with, to only accept friend requests from people they know, and to know how to protect themselves online,” say Facebook.

“In South Africa we work with partners likeDigify Africa who we launched Ilizwe Lam with in 2018. This is a programme aimed at training teens on the importance of Internet safety. We know that the use of social media by youth is different to adults, and that is why we believe programmes like Ilizwe Lam are so important.

“Parents also have a critical role to play in educating teenagers about online safety. Here are a few tips on engaging with youth and discussions their online safety.”

Here’s what they advise:

1. Under 13s are not allowed on Facebook or Instagram. Facebook and Instagram require everyone to be 13 years old before they can create an account (in some countries, this age limit may be higher dependent on local laws), and we encourage parents to have these conversations with their teens

2. Let your teenager know that the same rules apply online as offline. Your teenager can avoid most potential dangers and concerns online by simply stopping to think before they submit a post or accepting a friend request. Teach them to think before they engage with strangers online.

3. Engage early. Research shows that many children as young as six have access to smartphones or tablets. Talk to them about technology, before they are on social media. 

4. Help them to check and manage their privacy settings. Once your teen has set up a social media account, they can use Facebook privacy settings to control who can friend them, who can see their posts, and if they share details such as their location by default. This can help them to control their exposure to bullying, harassment and other potential concerns. 

5. Show them the tools they can use to filter content and people from their feeds. Instagram offers many flexible tools to keep teens safe online – keep them informed about the options. We’ve rolled out keyword filtering, bullying filtering and sensitivity screens, for example. People can also restrict unwanted interactions on their profiles and easily report accounts, comments and posts for bullying.

For more information, people can visit the Facebook Safety CentreFacebook Parents PortalInstagram Together and Parent’s Guide to Instagram

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