According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, over 60% of 13-17 year olds have at least one profile on a social networking site, many spending more than 2 hours per day on social networking sites. Additionally, Pew Research Center surveyed teens ages 12-17 and concluded that 73% of teens have cell phones, almost half (47%) of which are smartphones. One in four teens have a tablet computer and 9 in 10 teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Parents are providing their children with more ways than ever before to access social media which means it is imperative that they take the proper steps to keep their children and their household safe from online predators and criminals.

PrivateGiant CEO and security expert Shaun Murphy has created the latest guidelines for parents to follow to ensure the privacy and safety of their family’s information online.

Social Media Security Tips for Parents

1. Don’t allow your children to include any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in their account user names. Even something as simple as a first name and the city you reside in can be enough for a criminal to piece together a bigger picture of your life through your online presence. A photo of a school shirt, friend connections, a comment about weekend plans, can be collected in a process called Doxing and used to build an exact profile of a person. A stranger can easily gain intimate knowledge of your child’s entire life by trolling online profiles that are not properly safeguarded. Another level of protection can be added by having your child create unique user names for each account, never reusing the same log in information between sites.

2. Turn off any geo-tagging features. Allowing social media sites to have knowledge of your children’s location at any time of day can create a dangerous history that stalkers, cybercriminals and child predators can gain access to and exploit.

3. Monitor your children’s monthly download data usage. If you notice a spike in data usage, ask your children what they have been doing online and check for yourself to see what apps, videos or other files have been downloaded. A spike in data usage could indicate the presence of malware.

4. Create a guest account for your children on their computer instead of allowing them to use the computer as an administrator. Setting up the computer this way will give you more control over what your child can access and install.

5. Prepare ahead of time by joining social media. Before you allow your children to create a social media account, take the time to download the app or create an account of your own so you are familiar with how the program works.

6. Stay up to date on social media privacy settings. Privacy settings are constantly changing and if you are not checking them on a regular basis your children could be inadvertently sharing personal information with the world.

7. Check your child’s browser history weekly. If you come across a site that looks suspicious or you are not familiar with, check it out. Also keep a look out for any sites that seem like your child might have been shopping online.

8. Have open communication about the dangers of being online. Explain to your children how being online and freely sharing information or not having the proper safeguards in place could result in your family losing money, home, valuables and safety. Share real life examples with them to help them understand how vulnerable they truly are.

9. Schedule surprise check-ins. Have your children log in to their accounts so you can browse them freely with them. Every few weeks, collect your children’s devices and have them show you their accounts. Make it an opportunity to get connected with their online social world, and to detect if any of their online actions are inappropriate or potentially dangerous.

10. Only allow your children to communicate with or “friend” people they have met in person. Set a house rule that your children are not allowed to communicate or connect with people online that they have not met face-to-face and enforce it by having them “friend” you on their social media accounts so you can check at will and stay connected to their feeds.

About PrivateGiant

PrivateGiant is a technology firm dedicated to restoring privacy to online communications for the individual and enterprises. Its easy-to-use solutions deliver top-level security protection for text messages, emails, and messages sent or posted on social media and other public forums. PrivateGiant protects everyday communications from the moment they are sent or posted until they reach the designated recipient for decoding. Visit www.privategiant.com for additional information.

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