Social Media and Apps
It can be difficult to keep up with the latest social media platform or app your child is using but it is important to keep stay informed and embrace the tech they engage with, in order to understand both the opportunities and risks it presents. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok are only a few of the many apps that are only a click of a button away. Whilst platforms claim to have strict age limits, the reality is that a large number of younger children are using platforms designed for young people aged 13+. Being proactive and educating yourself on these platforms is essential in protecting the young person in your care.
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What you need to know
By understanding the scope of social media platforms that young people are exposed to, being aware of the content they engage with, and recognising the potential risks they may face, parents and safeguarding professionals can promote a safe and positive online environment that fosters healthy habits and responsible online behaviour. To do this, the key things you should learn about are…
- Social media features: Gain a basic understanding of social media platforms, their features and functions and why they appeal to young people. Educate yourself on the language that is used on these platforms so you know what your young person is talking about when you hear things like ‘snap streaks’ (the act of having consecutive days of messages sent).
- Safety and privacy settings: Encourage your young person to set their profile to private. Advise your young person not to accept friend requests from people they do not know, and to refrain from sharing personal information online. Have conversations about reporting and blocking users who may be saying mean things online or showing content that seems inappropriate.
- Parental controls: Some apps, such as TikTok, have parental control settings that will allow you to restrict your child from seeing content you do not wish for them to see, managing your young person’s screentime or changing their account to private.
- Setting boundaries and screen time: Establish clear guidelines for screen time and social media. Encourage a healthy balance between access to platforms and engaging with offline activities with family and friends.