Keeping Your Child Safe On Social Media

Published on October 29th, 2015

Updated on January 3rd, 2024

Girl Doing Homework

Social media has become one of the largest technological developments impacting the way people communicate and experience life. Teenagers are using these sites more than any other age bracket, and typically have access to at least one social media site.

Most teens are using social media, so parents need to be informed about how they can help their children remain safe in this high-tech world.

What is Social Media?

Social media is a collective term that includes websites and Internet applications (apps). These apps are used to share content, create online communities, and connect with other people online.

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Some examples of popular social media websites are:


Founded in 2004 and originally meant for just university students, Facebook is a major social networking website. It allows any person with an email address to sign up and connect with friends, family, peers, and virtually anyone from around the world who is also registered with the site.
Facebook users can share updates on what they are doing, who they are with, and how they are feeling. Users can also share photos, videos, and even their location. No one under the age of 13 is allowed to use this site, but there are ways to get around this- kids figure it out all the time.

X (Twitter)

Created in 2006, Twitter is an online social networking site that allows users to share short messages. These messages are called “tweets” and are shared with others who follow their personal Twitter accounts. Users are also able to read and respond to other’s tweets.


Launched in 2010, Instagram is an online mobile app where users share photos and videos along with hashtag descriptions. Instagram users can follow other users and comment on their photos and videos.


Created in 2011, Snapchat is a mobile app where users can send and receive photos via text. These photos disappear within seconds of the recipient viewing the photo.

Cartoon Girl On Social Media

Dangers of Social Media Use

Woman Using Smartphone

How to Protect Your Teen

Using approaches to protect your teen from the dangers of social media might allow them to continue using the websites while staying safe and keeping their information secure. It can also help with teaching them about responsibility, internet safety, and accountability.


Educate yourself first. Be aware of not only the dangers but also of social media sites in general. It is important to know how they work, and what their function is. This way, you can have an informed conversation with your teens.

Once you are educated about social media sites, you can approach your child. There are some important points to hit when teaching your teen how to be safe on social media sites:

Example: Applying to college or for a job position.

Set Ground Rules

Have rules around all use of technology, especially when it comes to social media. Let your child know the reason behind the rules is to keep them safe. Sit down with your child and come up with ground rules together. This way, your teen will feel involved and like they have some control over their social media activity. Also, inform your child of the consequences they will experience if the rules are broken.

Note: Creating a contract is often an effective way to approach setting ground rules and consequences.

Monitor Your Teen

Know what social media sites your child uses and what applications they have downloaded on their cell phone, tablet, or computer. Ask them to show you their profiles on these sites so you can stay privy to what photos and/or videos your child is uploading.
Note. Making things more complicated is the fact that friends and peers can upload photos/videos of your teen as well. Encourage your teen to take down things that you may feel are inappropriate.

Be A Good Example

In this day and age, it is not just your child using social media. Chances are you use some of these sites as well. Technology can be addictive, and if you do not want your teen to become obsessive about social media, you should not become preoccupied with yours. Set a good example by using social media in moderation.

Keep the Computer Out of Your Teen’s Bedroom

It is almost impossible to keep tabs on your child’s social media use if the computer is in their bedroom. A good compromise if your child wants to remain on social media is for them to move the computer to a common area in the home. The living or family rooms are potentially good options.

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