As another school year kicks off, there is so much to think about for parents and guardians that it can seem like the list never stops growing! School supplies to purchase, new teachers to meet, paperwork to fill out, tryouts, and practices to remember—wait, who is the student here? Finding beauty in the chaos of a new school year, many parents feel sharing their child’s back-to-school details on social media is a fun way to include family and friends in the excitement. Whether posting first-day-of-school photos or sharing updates about their new classroom, there is yet another thing to add to that growing list of yours, and that’s keeping them safe on social media.
As innocent as it may seem to share social media posts highlighting the life of your student, there are simple precautions to be aware of in this ever-changing world of technology to keep kids safe.
The Devil is in the Details
Everyone has at least one person come to mind when they hear the term “over-sharer.” In a world where you can share every minute detail with an audience at the touch of a button, that number can grow very quickly. When it comes to the details of your student, remember that less is more. Even if you have a private account, the information is privy to more eyes than you realize. If you post photos of your child looking cute before a school day or they share about a school function, there are some details to steer clear of in sharing. After all, do you really want anyone to have access to where and what your child is doing?
Here is a list of information that is better left off of your social media post:
● Name of your child’s school
● Teachers name(s)
● School schedule
● Real-time location check-ins
● Confidential Information of any kind
The Squeaky Wheel Gets Heard (and It May Not Be a Good Thing)
It feels nice to have a sounding board online, but try to remember that every opinion and story you share is available to get back to people you may wish wouldn’t have seen it. For the sake of your child, keep public complaints to a minimum regarding teachers, coaches and school administration. The same can go for sharing information or thoughts about other students that are in class with your son or daughter. Negative remarks shared on social media can be incredibly self-sabotaging for you or your child when the wrong eyes come across it. Again, if you’re thinking “I have a private account” don’t forget that little thing called a “screenshot”!
Keep the Conversation Open
Meeting new friends is a big part of starting a new school year, and that can sometimes bring about social anxiety, comparison syndrome, and even new bullies. Always be aware of signs that your child may be being bullied at school or online, and have talks about being nice to others. Remind them to set their profiles to “private” and never accept requests from strangers or someone they do not feel comfortable about. Make sure your kids and teens fully understand that what they post can be used against them and never truly erased. If you want to be extra compliant with your student’s school, check to see if they have an official social media policy in place, as this is becoming more prevalent over time. Do your due diligence and see which social media platforms your student is active on. Pay close attention to privacy settings and parental controls to limit use when you aren’t around, as well as determine whom and what they are interacting with on social media.
Here is a quick reference list of social media platforms to check:
Life is Meant to Be Shared
It’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed when you think about the possible negative outcomes that social media can bring, but it’s important also to remember the benefits. Allowing your student to be active on social media can also bring positive experiences and lessons under the right supervision. Social media can help them stay connected with friends and family, improve their communication skills, and give them a creative outlet to share their talent for music, art or writing. As their caretaker, it’s important for you to lead by example and show them that the beauty of life is what happens outside of social media, and when we aren’t on our phones. Sharing that life can be a fun experience, but having some guardrails in place can help make it better for everyone.