Chances are you’ve got a social media account. And your kids might have one too. We can’t imagine life without them, but it’s all too easy to check that 'I agree to the terms' box, without reading what they say. Follow our five-step guide to keeping your kids safe.
How can you help your kids?
Step 1: Read the T&Cs
It's not many people's idea of fun, but a few minutes spent reading the terms and conditions could make a big difference to your kids. Check what rights they have over the pictures and info they post, and how old you need to be to sign up. On Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, the age is set at 13, but a 2016 BBC survey found that 41% of 10-12 year olds had an Instagram account. So your little ones may be seeing things you’d rather they didn’t. Social media platforms usually offer safety advice – check out Facebook’s Safety Center for example.
Step 2: Talk to your kids about the terms
Chat to your kids about what sites they like. And explain that if they ignore age boundaries, they might see things that upset them. It's not always easy, but translate the small print for them so they understand. Did they know Instagram can use photos they post and lets other people use them too? When your kids sign up to social media, double check the terms to see if images are uploaded to the cloud automatically. Look at privacy and location terms with them, to help them take control of who sees what. And if your kids are old enough to use social media, get them to look out for updates to terms and conditions – and check what new things they’re agreeing to.
Step 3: Teach them to handle themselves online
Have regular chats about what your kids are doing, seeing and sharing online. Teach them how to interact with others in the online world, and encourage them to talk about anything they see that upsets them. Help them to feel confident about saying no, if someone asks them to do something that makes them uncomfortable. And, whilst they hopefully won't need to, show them how to block and report any online bullies.
Step 4: Know what’s safe for your kids
The biggest factor in what your child should be doing online is obviously their age. Little one 5 or under? They’re too young for social media, but you could sign up to 23snaps, to create a private photo album to share with Nanny and Gramps. Child between 6 and 9? They might like LEGO Life, where they can share their love of building, safely. Kid 10-12 and begging for an Instagram account? Show them Kudos. This photo-sharing site teaches good 'netiquette', and a no-comment policy helps prevent bullying. Teen between 13 and 15? They’re probably old enough for most networks now. Chat to them about what’s ok to share, and how to report anything that makes them uncomfortable. Son or daughter 16 plus? Let them explore the world of social media. But talk to them about how privacy settings put them in control of who sees what.
Step 5: Be sure where to go for more support
There are lots of resources for parents and carers helping their kids to enjoy the internet safely. We've teamed up with the NSPCC to give advice to parents over the phone, at community workshops and in our stores. For more information, go to our website. Want a guide to the social networks your kids are using, check out Net Aware. To find out more about sharing safely, go to o2.co.uk/help/nspcc/social-sharing or search Share Aware. And if you’d like some help setting up your kids’ devices to help keep them safe, why not book a free appointment with an O2 Guru?
Read our other articles
- Keep your kids safe online
See our tips to make sure your little ones are staying safe while they're making the most of the internet. Read the article.
- Know your child’s net
Find out what kids use the internet for and how to keep them safe.Read the article.
- Smart homes: all you need to know
Find out what it means to turn your house into a smart home. Read the article.
- Day with a smartwatch
Find out what your day could look like with a smartwatch to help you out. Read the article.
- Create your own company
Learn about creating your own company. Read the article.
- Ace your exams with your smartphone
Find out how to aim for those top grades with your phone or tablet. Read the article.
Products featured in this article
- Net Aware
Want a guide to the social networks your kids are using? Check out Net Aware.
Create a private photo album to share with the family. Have a look at 23snaps.
- LEGO Life
LEGO Life lets your child share their love of building, safely.
The photo sharing site for kids that teaches 'netiquette', and has a no comments policy to prevent bullying. Check out Kudos.
The children pictured are models.