7 Tips for Maintaining Safety in the Age of Social Media

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Your parents likely taught you safety lessons such as looking both ways before crossing the street and wearing a helmet when riding your bike. These lessons can also be applied to your online behavior.

Social media sites make it easy for people to share personal information. This can lead to cyberbullying and predators or expose children to inappropriate content.

1. Don’t Give Out Personal Information

While most people use social media to stay connected with friends and family, there are some who aren’t playing by the same rules. They can use it as a tool to harass, bully and even cause physical harm. That’s why it is important to think twice before sharing any personal information on social media.

When you share your personal details on social media you make yourself, your family and your home a target for criminals. Avoid posting your phone number, address or any other personal information as text or on a photo. Also disable the geotagging feature if possible. If you’re using an app that shares your location with everyone, it may provide a stalker or thief with enough information to locate you or your belongings.

Don’t accept friend requests from strangers or duplicate accounts. Remember that any message, photo or video that you post online will live on in some form forever, so think carefully before posting anything that would be embarrassing if it were to find its way into the wrong hands.

2. Be Wary of Strangers

It may seem obvious, but you should never accept a friend request from someone who hasn’t been introduced to you in person. Doing so could lead to malware infections, cyber bullying, or even identity theft. Also, remember that social media platforms can be hacked and messages from friends can include malicious links or attachments. Make sure you use two-factor authentication and strong passwords to protect your account.

You can’t avoid meeting strangers in the real world, but it is important to remind children that they should always be wary of people they meet online. Predators can easily impersonate someone they know in order to gain trust and exploit victims.

Children should be taught that they should never share personal information with strangers online, whether it is on Facebook or on dating apps. It is also important to teach them that what they post online lives forever and can be screenshotted or screen recorded. Therefore, they should only post photos or personal details on their public accounts and not in chat rooms, emails, or instant message conversations.

3. Keep Your Privacy Settings Up-To-Date

It’s important to keep security settings up to date, as companies change them regularly. This can help prevent unauthorized access to your device, network or account. Cybercriminals look for weak points to exploit, and updating software can often make those weaknesses disappear.

Social media platforms collect data about who users are, what they do and what they share online, and that information can be used by scammers, predators and identity thieves. It’s important to teach kids and teens about how to limit their digital footprint, including sharing less information on social media and using a private Internet connection (i.e., cellular data or a virtual private network) whenever possible.

It’s also important to remind students that anything shared on social media can never be completely erased. Even if they delete something, it can often be accessed through screenshots or by looking at their browsing history. Helping them understand their privacy settings and personalize them to their comfort level can go a long way toward ensuring online safety. It can also be helpful to have them review their privacy settings on a regular basis, like once a month.

4. Keep a Close Eye on Your Child’s Activity

According to Sigma Cyber Security, it is important to keep a close eye on your child’s activity online. This is because children and teens can be exposed to a wide range of disturbing content. This could include anything from inappropriate images to violent or sexual comments. In addition, they may also be exposed to phishing scams or other malicious content.

Keeping an eye on your kids’ activities is also a good way to help them develop better online habits. This is because it will help them to realise that everything they share online can be seen by anyone. It will also help them to understand the importance of using privacy settings on apps.

Many parents insist on knowing their child’s passwords so that they can monitor their social media accounts and activity. This can be a bit of an invasion of privacy, however, and some kids will refuse to give their parents access to their accounts. If this is the case, it is best to encourage your child to only accept friend requests from people that they know in real life.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

We’ve all heard the warnings that people need to be careful about sharing personal information online, but it can be difficult for children and teens to spot red flags. Help them stay safe by teaching them about the risks of social media, and encourage them to ask for help when necessary.

Scammers and predators often use social media to obtain kids’ personal information, such as their school names, birthdays, and hometowns. Make sure your kids know that they should never share this information online, and encourage them to use the “Grandma Rule” before posting: If Grandma wouldn’t approve of it, they shouldn’t post it!

Many social media apps have evolved to be as addictive as possible, with “likes” and other rewards offering instant dopamine hits. This can cause children and teens to compulsively check their accounts and become overwhelmed by digital overload. To prevent this, set screen time limits for their devices with Aura, and keep them off during playtime, dinnertime, and homework time. For additional security, teach them to use strong passwords that combine letters, numbers, and symbols and avoid obvious choices like their birthday or pet’s name.

6. Don’t Let Yourself Be Pressured

There is a growing epidemic of social media addiction, especially in teens. Social media can cause feelings of anxiety and depression by constantly exposing people to curated content and perfect lives. Social media can also lead to people spending too much time online and neglecting in-person relationships or work.

Using social media for too long can also distract kids from school and family life, which leads to poor grades. Scammers can disguise viruses and malware as video games or other content that kids want to download, which gives hackers full access to their devices and the ability to spy on them.

Finally, social media can cause people to engage in risky behavior to get likes and comments or share content. This can include bullying or harassing others, posting embarrassing pictures, or playing dangerous pranks. It can also involve spending too much time on social media and not engaging in other activities, which can lead to stress, depression, and even physical ailments. It is important to remember that everyone’s life is different and that what you see on social media may not always be the truth.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Report Misconduct

If you’re contacted by someone online attempting to lure or harm you, report it immediately. This creates documentation for the social media platform and can result in the removal of harmful content or even the suspension or deletion of an account. It can also help alert law enforcement in cases of physical threats, which are considered a crime.

However, reporting isn’t a guaranteed way to stop harassment or abuse from occurring, as it’s still possible for people to post offensive and threatening content about others on their accounts. This can have serious repercussions for those who work in professional settings, as it can reveal legal details or confidential information about clients.

Furthermore, most platforms don’t offer a comprehensive and accessible reporting mechanism, which exacerbates feelings of helplessness when confronted with online abuse. To improve the process, platforms should allow users to document their interactions with abusive accounts through vetted third-party tools and incorporate this documentation into the reporting interface itself. This would streamline the process and make it more effective and equitable.