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Keeping Kids Safe on Social Media

Red haired charming schoolgirl in blue dress browsing smartphone while sitting on rustic wooden table with legs crossed beside books against big window at home

Social media and being online is not just for adults. More and more children are online and engaged in social networking these days. Social media sites, online gaming, content consumption and creation is a way of life for a lot of children and teenagers. We can’t stress how important it is to learn how to navigate social media spaces. It’s so easy to overshare, post things that may put you in danger, cause embarrassment or damage your reputation. With online activity being such a big part of our lives, its crucial that we help our children stay safe online. Here are a few helpful tips to help stay safe while socializing online.

Keeping Information Private

One of the first things that should be discussed with children who engage online is the need to keep certain things pertaining to themselves, their family, and friends private. Information like where they live, where they attend school, phone numbers, their parent’s employment, identification information, social security numbers, any financial and medical information, passwords, and account information should not be shared with anyone online.

Limit Access and Connections

Visit the privacy settings on children’s social media and chatroom accounts. Restrict access regarding who can contact your kids. Discuss with children what you expect from them and why limiting who can access them is so important. Don’t forget to check video access and sharing settings. Monitor your child’s online activity closely. You may be able to use parental controls to monitor who can view when your child is online. Set restrictions on who can exchange messages with your child. Tell them to avoid responding to private messages asking for personal information. Block the individual and tell a trusted guardian.

Brother and sister sitting together on podium and reading from digital pad

Help your child pick a safe screen name that doesn’t disclose their name, age, gender or location. Do not use the same name as their email addresses. Frequently review your child’s friends list and limit this to people they actually know. Block anyone that should not have access to your child. Ask your children who they engage with online.

Some apps and sites allow you to share your location. Make sure this is turned off. Also, check what the app has access to, such as cameras, online wallets, passwords, storage, photos, files, and microphones.

Watch What You Post

The internet is eternal. Everything posted has a blueprint. Even if it’s deleted, it still has a presence online somewhere. This makes it extra important to go over what your children post and how they behave online. Images and words posted online can have consequences offline. Encourage them to post only things they are comfortable with sharing and to think before they post or share images and content. They should always watch the language they use. Future employers, college admissions offices, teachers, coaches, and law enforcement may view what they post. They should practice being polite and courteous to others and not posting offensive content. Also avoid the urge to engage in cyberbullying. If they encounter bullying, they should immediately tell someone they trust.

Look Out for Predators and Scammers

Social media is full of predators that look to exploit and take advantage of vulnerable individuals--especially children. They may pose as children to gain their victim’s trust. They then use tactics to engage children in unsavory activities, including sexual exploitation, identity theft, and other unscrupulous acts. Teach your child to ignore and block anyone they feel uncomfortable with or makes them feel suspicious. Teach them about body safety and boundaries in both the physical and virtual world.

From above of adorable little Asian girl showing mobile phone to unrecognizable African American boy during break in classroom

They also need to be cautious of entering online sweepstakes, contests, and prize giveaways. Before filling out anything, go over it with an adult. NEVER give out banking, credit card, or financial information or make purchases online without getting an adult’s permission and overview.

Impersonating Others

Social media catfishing or impersonating someone else is so prevalent. Discourage children from engaging in such activities. It is never acceptable to impersonate others. The consequences can be very harmful and dangerous. Check to see if your child is pretending to be someone else by searching their name, nickname, school, grade, community, and hobbies. Also, warn them that there are many fake profiles and people impersonating others online so to be careful who they connect with.

Being Vigilant

In addition to monitoring children’s online activity, watch for changes in your child and signs of abuse. This may include a change in mood and behaviors, attempts to conceal their online activity, depression, and being withdrawn. Too much of anything can be harmful so it is important to limit the time spent online and engaged in social media.

Most sites have contact links and information to report suspicious, inappropriate, or criminal activity. To report a child sexual exploitation offense, call 911 or go to Other resources include contacting the FBI at and filing a report with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678. Remind them to always tell someone they trust if they experience anyone threatening them or making them feel uncomfortable. Follow BCA on Facebook to stay updated on scam alerts, consumer tips, and trending industry topics.

About Business Consumer Alliance Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.