Social media and safety with your Children

Using social media is a regular part of life for most young people. Support your child to manage the risks in their online world but still enjoy its benefits.

The use of social media platforms has exploded in the past decade
Things can change so fast, it’s hard to keep track! Let’s catch up on some of the social media basics.

  • Young people use social media to connect with others they may or may not know offline in the ‘real world’
  • Online profiles have basic information that forms your child’s social media identity – people identify each other through their profiles and also by what they post online
  • Young children mostly start using social media to play online games; they may then graduate to platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook
  • Children as young as 6 access social media sites and their access increases with age

“Supporting your child to manage the risks on social media means they can safely enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.”

Social media can be enjoyable and beneficial for your kids

Contrary to what you might have heard, risk does not always equal harm on social media. Social media can offer many benefits for your kids:
  • To connect with family and friends
  • Expand their social circle
  • Share their creativity through music and art
  • Explore different ideas
  • Develop and express their unique identity
  • Provide opportunities to learn with others

Social media is constantly changing and evolving. It can be hard to keep track of what platforms are most popular with your child and their friends.

While there are too many to list in just one article, you can learn about them and get up-to-date information on the eSafety website.

Common risks on social media for kids

Some of the things you may worry your kids are exposed to include:

  • Access to inappropriate content such as pornography
  • Sexting and image-based abuse (also known as revenge porn)
  • Having their personal information shared
  • Being groomed online
  • Being embarrassed, harassed or attacked on social media
  • Accidentally downloading viruses or malware

“I keep an eye on what my daughter is posting on social media by ‘friending’ her on Facebook and checking in regularly”

– Joy, parent to 13 year old

Empower yourself and your child to take steps to stay safe

Talk to them about things they can do to minimise the risks. Educate yourself about the steps you can take if things get out of hand or potentially dangerous.

  • Provide a clear expectation about their online behaviour
  • Use strong passwords and update them regularly
  • Encourage them not to share passwords with friends
  • Teach them about the consequences of sharing something online
  • Encourage them to connect only with people they know offline
  • Keep identifying information to a minimum eg do not reveal their location
  • Encourage them to talk with a trusted adult about online issues
  • Contact Police immediately if you become aware of grooming on social media
  • Change privacy settings so only friends and family can view their profiles and posts
  • Be aware of what your child is doing online and who they talk with

While social media is usually a regular part of a young person’s life, it’s good to know that your child is staying safe

Talking to your child about the risks and benefits of social media can help them navigate these platforms safely.