Kids & Social Media: Rules, Contracts, Etiquette and Apps Every Parent Should Know About

To watch my NTV News Interview, click here: NTV News – Family Matters Segment “Kids & Social Media” with Heather Riggleman

Can we talk about internet safety? Just last week my son was playing a game on my tablet before hopping onto the Youtube app to search for his favorite song, Gangham Style. 

Even though the filter on my tablet was set to strict, I had to explain some offensive material to him which led to a concussion of always, ALWAYS asking a parent before hoping from one game or app to the next. The internet isn’t a bad thing but just like any other toy or activity rule of engagement are a must. So today’s post is a plethora of social media tips, rules, contracts, and apps every parent should know about. 

Social Media

 

Safety & Monitoring

The internet is becoming a part of everything we do, in fact my freshman was just assigned her own Chromebook for high school. She can access assignments, grades, textbooks, and has the web at her fingertips to search. Not only does she have a Chromebook, she an Iphone and tablet. To ensure she is safe on the internet, here are the following things we’ve done for social media and apps. 

1.  Set up their accounts. Assist or be there when your child sets up his or her account, whether it’s Facebook, Pandora, or Twitter. 

2. Set the privacy settings. Most accounts offer parental or privacy settings, take the time to set the settings yourself. 

For example–Facebook has made it easy to do this.  If you click on the lock symbol in the upper right hand corner there is a Privacy Shortcuts dropdown. From there you’ll want to check the following settings:
– Who can see my stuff?
– Who can contact me?

3. Monitor who your child friends or adds to any of their accounts. Check their accounts frequently and monitor who they’ve friended. Be sure to review private messages as well. 

4. Require access. Require access to all electronics, all apps, all text messages, and all passwords. Remind them you can and will check their messages at a second’s notice. And when you do come across something questionable–ask questions, discuss your concerns. 

5. Require a code of conduct. Once something is published to the internet or sent in a message–it’s out there forever. Discuss common sense media with your kids, break it down in a way they would understand. If you aren’t sure of the repercussions posting things to social media, visit: Common Sense Media. This site has worksheets and tips for both educators and parents. It is also broken down according to the age of your child. 

Require your children to follow a code of conduct which includes not engaging in social media bullying, leaving mean comments, and require your child to tell you if he or she is being bullied online. 

 4. Disable location and geotag settings.

A geotag is an electronic tag that assigns a geographical location to a photograph or video, a posting on a social media website, etc.  In order to protect your child from predators, it’s important to turn this setting off or deny permission. Below are the following steps to turn of location or geotags for a smartphone.  You can read an article by GCN which lists the steps for Android, Blackberry and Iphone devices.  Click here for that article: How to turn off Geotag feature.

 To learn more about privacy settings visit About Technology and bookmark their posts. 

Rules of Engagement Contract

As with any fun activity or privilege, there are rules and a code of conduct. The internet, Iphone, and all electronic devices are no different. Our home includes docking all electronics in our office after 7:00 pm and NO devices at the dinner table. 

We also created a contract for our children to sign and hang on their bedroom wall as a reminder of how to safely and responsibly engage online.  

You can download your free printable contract here: Social Media Contract for Kids.

Social Media Contract for Kids Heather Riggleman

The rules include: 

Engaging & Setting Up

… I understand my parents have access to my accounts and electronics at all times. I understand they can revoke my rights and privileges as needed.

… I will ask my parents’ permission before joining any social media site or downloading any app or surfing to new apps or sites.

… I will give my parents ALL my passwords for ALL my accounts and electronics. I will NOT give my passwords to anyone but my parents.

… I will allow my parents to set my privacy settings & location settings for all accounts. I will not change these settings.

… I will NOT set up any private accounts.

… I will NOT friend strangers and will talk to my parents about any strange comments, messages, or requests.

Sharing 

… I will NOT post personal information without my parents permission, this includes: age, address, location, school, interests, and name.

… I will NOT post or share photos / videos of myself, family, or friends without my parents permission.

… I will NOT post any status or comment that does not reflect my values, integrity, or character. This includes offensive language.

 Code of Conduct

… I will follow my parent’s rules regarding time limits and online use. I will turn off all devices at the requested time.

… I understand posting certain videos and photos IS punishable by law, not just by my parents.

… I will tell my parents if someone is bullying me whether it is online, instant messaging, or text messaging.

… I will meet my parent’s academic and family standards.

… I will NOT meet anyone in person who I haven’t met online.

… I will NOT engage in social media bullying and will report my friends if I see it happening. 

Again, for a printable contract for your child(ren), click here: Social Media Contract for Kids. 

Apps to be aware of

Now that we’ve gone over safety and rules of engagement, there are sites to be aware of. Even though you think your child is downloading apps simply to chat with friends, that isn’t always the case. Below are a list of Apps to either delete or monitor because these Apps put your child at risk to be victims of cyber bulling, sexual predators, or sexting. 

Not all Apps are bad, some have great benefits when used under parental supervision, like SNAPCHAT. It can be used to talk to friends or relatives in a different state, however it still has major drawbacks. The key with any App or internet surfing is to openly talk to your child about the internet. 

The name of each App is linked so you can visit the app and find out more information

VOXER
This walkie-talkie PTT (push-to-talk) app allows users to quickly exchange short voice messages. They can have chats going on with multiple people at a time and just have to tap the play button to hear any messages they receive.

Although it largely has an adult following, including some people who use it for their job, it’s becoming popular among teens who enjoy its hybrid style of texting and talking. Hurtful messages from cyberbullies can be even more biting when they’re spoken and can be played repeatedly.

VINE
Vine is Twitter’s mobile app that allows users to shoot and share short loops of video (6 seconds or less). It’s rated 17+, but children and teens are still downloading it. 

With the most basic creative searching, kids can find nudity, sex, drug use, offensive language, hardcore sexuality, and more,” Common Sense Media says in its review of the app. “While there are plenty of cute, fun videos, even adults might be shocked at some of the things they find.”

BLENDR 
A flirting app used to meet new people through GPS location services. Users can send messages, photos, and videos, and rate the hotness of other users.

Because no authentication is required, it makes it easy for sexual predators can contact minors on Blendr and minors can meet up with adults. And again, there is the risk of sexting.

DOWN
This app, which used to be called Bang with Friends, is connected to Facebook. Users can categorize their Facebook friends in one of two ways: They can indicate whether or not a friend is someone they’d like to hang with or someone they are “down” to hook-up with.

It has a classification system which can make your child feel unwanted and also creates a peer “hook up” group. 

SNAPCHAT
This app allows a user to send photos and videos to anyone on his/her friend list. The sender can determine how long the receiver can view the image and then the image “destructs” after the allotted time.

While this APP is fun to communicate in videos and photos, it is the number ONE app used for SEXTING. The founders and SNAPCHAT created the app as a way for women to send naked videos and photos of themselves and have been known to call women “Betches.”  The app makes users think these photos and videos disappear forever however they can be easily be recovered and screen shots can be taken to further exploit the video or photo. 

KIK MESSENGER
An instant messaging app with over 100 million users, Kik Messenger allows users to exchange videos, pics, and sketches. Users can also send YouTube videos and create memes and digital gifs.

The term SEXT BUDDY is now replacing Kik Buddy. Kik does not offer parental controls and makes it easy for sexual predators to locate your child. 

WHISPER
Whisper is an anonymous confession app that allows users to superimpose text over a picture in order to share their thoughts and feelings anonymously. Although posts are anonymous, the app displays the area you are posting from. You can also search for users posting within a mile from you.

Whisper uses GPS and shows your child’s location and how close he or she is from another user. Kids are using this app to cyber bully via posting pictures and derogatory remarks on top of sexual predators are able to use the app to locate your child while remaining anonymous. 

OMEGLE
This app is primarily used for video chatting. With Omegle, users do not have to identify themselves through the service. Instead, chat participants are only identified as “You” and “Stranger.” However, users can connect Omegle to their Facebook accounts to find chat partners with similar interests.

When choosing this feature, an Omegle Facebook App receives the user’s Facebook “likes” and try to match the user with a stranger with similar likes. This App comes with major risks as child sexual predators use it to collect information and look for victims.

ASK.FM
Ask.fm is one of the most popular social networking sites that is used almost exclusively by kids. It is a Q&A site that allows users to ask other users questions while remaining anonymous. 

The app is perfect for cyber bullying – Kids will often ask repeated derogatory questions that target one person. Due to the anonymity of the badgering, it creates a virtually consequence-free form of cyber-bullying. Ask.fm has been associated with 9 documented cases of suicide in the U.S. and the U.K

YIK YAK
An app that allows users to post text-only “Yaks” of up to 200 characters. The messages can be viewed by the 500 Yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote the Yak, as determined by GPS tracking.

YIK YAK is primarily used for sexually explicit photos. Users are exposed to and contributing sexually explicit content, derogatory language, and personal attacks. Although the posts are anonymous, kids often start revealing personal information as they get more comfortable with other users. 

 Social Media

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