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Social Media and Your Kids: Protecting Your Gift

We live in the best time for information sharing. It’s never been easier to find or share your opinion on a restaurant, retail store, movie, and more. What’s changing is the way younger generations are finding that information. Where people once used search engines to find fun places to go while on vacation at the beach, we are seeing a shift to social media hashtag searches, a.k.a. visual searches. By using the hashtag ‘#CrystalCoast,’ you can immediately find photos of yoga studios, coffee shops, beaches, surf shops, killer waves, boutiques, and fishing charters.

Girls on phoneSocial media can be used as a powerful tool for finding and sharing information. It’s also a great opportunity to stay connected with friends, find people with similar interests, and share content of self expression. Social media has almost become a vital component of growing and expressing individual identity. So it comes as no surprise that over 60% of 13-17 year olds already have at least one profile on a social media site, from Instagram to Twitter to Pinterest.

If your child is thinking about using social networking, Bellagurl has a few tips to make sure that your child makes the most of their social media experience while staying safe and secure. It’s important to take into account the risk displaying such personal information can have on our kids.

Restrict access to your page by keeping it private. Social media sites like Instagram have security options that can make your social profile essentially invisible to anyone you don’t want to be your “follower.” Explore the privacy settings on all your social profiles to make sure you aren’t over-sharing with strangers. Now, understand from the standpoint of a teenager that having a high number of followers directly correlates in their mind to being popular. If your teen doesn’t want privacy on their social media profile, it may be a popularity contest for them and this is a different topic that a parent needs to address with their teen.
Don’t sync your social profile with your cell phone number, or any other contact information. Most social media profiles have options to list multiple forms of contact information. While those touch points may be important for business owners and people who need to keep in touch with customers, they can easily be misused and make a child more vulnerable to cyber bulling, predatory adults, inappropriate commercial advertisements, and more.

Never post anything to social media, or anywhere on the internet, that you aren’t comfortable with everyone seeing. Once something is on your profile, it is archived and will be there forever. Keep in mind that employers and college admissions officers frequently scour social media profiles to discover what a candidate is really like and that makes a first impression.

Don’t believe social media apps that promote that they delete your posts within a certain number of seconds, like Snapchat. Ultimately, those apps are there to make money and in the digital world nothing is lost forever, unless you work for the IRS. Want more evidence on why teens use apps like Snapchat? Read this blog written by a 13 year old. It will open your eyes, especially about the issues of cyber bullying on social media.

Social media can be a fun way to interact with friends and family but it’s important that kids not only know how to use all that it has to offer but also respect their own profiles. Parents need to have tough conversations about the effects over sharing can have on their lives and perhaps address some underlying self-esteem issues. The most important tip Bellagurl has to offer is to make sure that you and your child find balance and appropriateness in usage that works for your family.

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