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Social Media Safety

Social Smarts: Privacy, the Internet, and You was created by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

Social media used to be emails. Then chat rooms and computer messengers. Then cell phones became popular and text messaging was invented. One invention after the other, social media has expanded into countless mediums.

From the most popular sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tinder, to the ones that probably just your children know about - Snapchat, Burn Book, Whisper, and Yik Yak, social media is evolving and expanding every day. It can be unnerving if you're trying to keep up with what your friends or children are doing online.

Social media doesn't have to be daunting or a realm of exploitation and bullying. All you need is the right information to make sure that you and your family know what really goes on online and how to use these sites safely.

  1. Everything is essentially permanent. Once you've sent something into the internet world, it may never leave. Even after you delete it. In a world where Print Screen is a button on your keyboard and screen shots on your phone take a mere second, when you post something online, it could be there forever.
  2. Research and fully understand the website or app you want to use before you use it. Some websites' terms of use include the transfer of rights of your content, or their third-party applications are given the ability to take your content. Read the terms of use BEFORE you sign up!
  3. Stay up-to-date with the medium's privacy settings. They will change, and hopefully the site will tell you when they change them.
  4. Use the privacy settings!!!!
  5. Be cautious of the information you provide in your personal profile. If you choose to share your private information, be sure to have your security settings so only the people you trust can see it. Social media profiles are a typical way for fraudsters to gain information about you and use against you for identity theft, romance scams, and more.
  6. Know who you're following and who follows you. Do you trust these people? Do you even know these people? Don't add someone you don't know, because you don't know what that person may do with the information you post.
  7. Be wary of what you post. Social media cannot dictate sarcasm or humour. What you post may be taken out of context. Follow the rule of "if you wouldn't say it to your grandma, don't say it online".
  8. Make sure it's okay that you post a photo of someone else. Not everyone wants their photo to be available to just anyone, so respect that opinion and ask first.
  9. Disable any geo-locating settings. On some apps (like dating apps that let you see who is in your area) provide your location even when you aren't active on the app. This could potentially reveal your workplace or home location.

Is your child a victim of peer or self-exploitation or cyber bullying? Get the resources you and your child need.