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Keeping your child’s socials safe

Find out how to keep your child safe online with our useful hints and tips

Person typing on a laptop

Person typing on a laptop

 

Information sharing

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok enable your child to share a huge amount of information about themselves including photos and location through not just phones but also ipads and gaming platforms like X-Box and PlayStations. Sharing this information can put your child or even you at risk.

It’s important that you as a family take into consideration the risk of sharing personal information on social media and communicate with relatives and friends (both of yours and of your child) what should and should not be shared/tagged so that safety is not compromised.

 

Open and honest discussions

Recognise that your child may be curious about their past and the people in it. Let them know that you understand their curiosity and that it’s OK to talk about it with you. By emphasising that you won’t be upset or angry, you are more likely to be the one they turn to if something does happen.  Some adopted children also actively search for their birth relatives in secret and if they are successful, this can place them in risky situations. It’s a good idea to explain that the best way to manage contact with birth families is through their adoption agency who can offer support and guidance.

For an adopted child, having contact with their birth family can be emotional and challenging, therefore initiating contact through social media can cause additional complexities bypassing the important preparation and support offered when contact is arranged through an adoption agency. Contact through the internet can be instant and direct which could leave the child feeling confused and upset.

It’s a good idea to be prepared. Discuss and make a plan of how they might deal with any unwanted/inappropriate contact so that if it happens you both know exactly how to deal with it. This could include

  • Telling you immediately if anything happened
  • Taking a screen grab of the message/follower
  • Blocking, unfollowing or muting the individual
  • Contacting your adoption agency for advice on the unsolicited contact

 

Get involved

Take some time to browse online together and discuss with your child what sites they are on and the friends they talk to online so that you can gently broach any issues that may arise. Think about whether they are age appropriate and if they are unwilling check their history to ensure you’re covering all bases.  If you’re not sure how to do this, simply google it – there are so many guides available.

Join your child’s favourite sites to understand what they can do/see especially the ones you may be less familiar with like Snapchat and Tik Tok. By doing this, you’ll know exactly what to do in the privacy settings and can review the site regularly to ensure your family is kept as safe as possible.

Don’t forget the gaming platforms too. From Fortnite to FIFA, on PlayStations, X-box and Wii consoles, they are all potential ways of sharing private information and talking to people who may not be who they seem.

 

Top tips

Regularly check your child’s privacy settings

Social media sites are continually adding security settings to ensure that maximum protection is available. When you set up your account, use the handy guides below to make sure you’ve done everything you can to keep their account private and check on a monthly basis.  Check out how to manage your privacy settings on Snapchat, Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook

Keep an eye on content

While most people post pictures and videos with the best intentions they can be an easy way of identifying a child and where he or she is.  Ensure your child and their friends know what kind of images are appropriate (eg not in school uniform or in identifiable locations) and remember not to check in to locations or let others tag them in posts which can be seen by others.

It’s also important that your child understands what kind of information shouldn’t be shared such as phone numbers, addresses and personal information and the reasons behind this.

Only be friends with people they know

This may be self-explanatory, but there are people out there who use social media to find  people or steal their information. It’s always best practice to only accept friend requests from people your child knows such as their friends and family.

Keep talking with your child

You can’t monitor your child’s social media activity 24/7, so maintaining a strong line of communication is important to understand what’s going on with your child online.

 

 

 

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