You need to be checking your children’s social media accounts, regularly! I have posted about how to deal with your kids online before and I will keep posting about it because it is something we have to be one step ahead of all the time.
On twitter, recently, I was in a discussion where an aunt asked if it was appropriate for her nieces teacher to be making comments along the lines of “Hey pretty”. OBVIOUSLY this is never appropriate! I will even go so far as to say that it is not appropriate for teachers to be interacting at all with children on their social media accounts. Teachers are not friends! It doesn’t matter how cool the teacher is, they are not friends!
I regularly check my kids phones, not daily but enough to be able to pick up on anything inappropriate. With so much happening – Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook, emails, it is hard to know which accounts to check and more specifically what do you look for once in the account.
You need to check who they are following/friending and who is following/friending them. Teachers are a no-no as are Facebook friends they do not know, if the person requesting to be there friend is a lot older, you need to not only ignore the request but also block them. Accounts with followers are a little bit harder to weed out the unnecessary but you can still check profiles of people you think are suspect and ideally their profiles should be private.
Who are they interacting with. You need to check conversations on accounts like twitter and instagram, specifically private messages. Do they know the people they are engaging with? Do you know them? Are the friends? If they do not know who they are, they do not need to be talking to them.
Check any new apps they have downloaded. There are always new apps coming out, new ways kids connect, share and engage. You need to be on top of whatever it is that your child is using. I read recently about an app that streams live teenagers who are sleeping and then people leave comments on the streams.
Who and what are they taking photos of. Kiara is the queen of selfies, she takes hundreds of them. Check what images they are being sent and what they sending and/or posting and who is asking for what sort of images.
How much are they sharing. Kids, by nature, over share so you need to monitor this. They shouldn’t be sharing where they are going, who they are going with and when. If they want to organise get togethers they need to do it offline. Where they live and their contact details should never be shared online.
As parents, we need to stay on top of this constantly! You do not have a choice!