Social networks like Facebook have become so much a part of our culture
that our teens may find it hard to believe that there was a time before
the internet. As in all spheres of social life, there’s are dangers
inherent in participating in social networking. Here is a guide to ensuring
that your students stay safe on social networks.
Privacy and Trust
Don’t be offended if your teen rejects your friend request. Reading
their social network sites is just like listening in on their phone conversations,
reading their texts or peeking in their diaries. While students are entitled
to a modicum of privacy and trust, you still have a responsibility to
protect them. The internet provides a certain anonymity that means that
people posing as their friends will have access to all their personal
Social networking sites are inevitable and crucial for the modern teen
to effectively communicate with their friends. Sharing photos and videos
inspires creativity and written communications improve their writing skills.
Since your teen is going to be participating, it’s best to outline
rules and guidelines to help them to safely navigate social networking sites.
Rules and Guidelines
Talk about which sites your students can belong to and set up your own
account so you can familiarize yourself with the way in which the site
works. Help your student to set up the site (make sure that they are old
enough to comply with the site’s age restrictions) and show them
how the privacy settings work. Explain carefully to them why the privacy
settings are important and regularly check that they have not been changed.
Make it a rule that your student doesn’t friend anyone that they
haven’t already met in person and don’t know. You can even
get younger students to check with you before they accept a friend request.
Ensure that photos posted to ensure that they are appropriate and don’t
reveal any information that could tell someone which school they attend
or where they live.
Regularly Google your students to see what pictures and information are
out there. Sometimes their friends may post personal information or pictures
that you may not want online. Be vigilant and ask your student to show
you what they have been up to online.
It is your responsibility to monitor the sites your students use and the
information that they post. Set up guidelines and rules for internet use
and be sure to discuss the consequences of posting inappropriate information
or pictures. Discuss cyber bullying and how they should react if they
receive any messages or posts that are offensive or hurtful. Ask the school
for their policy on social bullying and discuss this with your student too.