Social Media Safety. We’re asked about it almost daily. When your child first asks about social media, your immediate concern is keeping them safe! But have you thought about what “safe” means?

Safe doesn’t just mean privacy settings.

Safe means you’ve set ground rules, have discussed why the rules exist, and consequences.

Safe means you’ve discussed inappropriate photos. Simple photos like a selfie of your child laying in their bed, even if they’re clothed, can entice a predator. Filters that make them look older than they are can start dangerous conversations. Talk to your child about what they CAN post and then watch their account.

Safe means you’ve talked to your child about asking permission when posting photos of others, or tagging others.

Safe means you’ve talked to your child about passive-aggressive posts and memes. Discuss how these posts hurt feelings and damage relationships.

Safe means you’ve discussed mental health and basing decisions on what they see on social media, or reaction to their content. Be sure they know, what they think is important IS important. Teach them to post content because they thought it was great, not because they think they’ll get lots of likes.

Safe means your child knows not to delete an inappropriate DM or comment, but rather to show it to you. Be sure they understand there isn’t a single thing in the world they could say or do to make a request for photos, or a message that makes them uncomfortable, okay, and that they can come to you if it happens and they won’t be blamed.

Safe means you enforce consequences if your guidelines aren’t followed. Sometimes our kids are the ones doing the bad stuff. They attack. They get in fights. They post bad photos of friends deliberately. They ask for “those” pictures. These actions have to have consequences.

It seems like the easiest thing to say is “no” when your child starts talking about social media. We want to protect our kids and letting them move into a world we don’t have control over is frightening. Start a social media conversation, and continue it as your kids get older. ¬†Arm them with knowledge. Back them with support. Give them privacy, but watch what they’re doing and offer feedback. It’s hard. It’s sometimes confusing. But your kids need you to help them. This is their generation’s “Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’Roll”.