Social Media and Cyber Safety for Parents








In 2018, YouTube became the most popular social app among teens ages 13-18.

While there are a lot of helpful, educational and innocent videos available, there are also many inappropriate ones. We suggest that parents be aware of the videos that their children are watching along with any accounts that they may have.

Active Users: 1 billion

Average age of users: 35-44

Perhaps the most popular and well-known social networking site, Facebook is used by people of all ages. Parents are encouraged to “Friend” their children to stay aware of what photos and posts they are posting.

Facebook has a multitude of privacy settings, including limiting who can view your posts or profile, and who can contact you via email. 

Total number of active users: 2.23 billion

Average age of users: 35-54

How to edit your privacy settings: Down arrow at the top-right corner > Settings > Privacy

Instagram is a social networking app that enables users to take, edit and share photos or videos.  This can be done either privately or with a private network of Followers. Instagram has become a public validation of popularity and self-worth for teens – competing with one another for the most amounts of “Likes” and Followers.

The major concerns for parents are the content of the pictures their children are sharing, and that location can be added to photo.   There are many stories of people who have been burglarized after they’ve posted photos from vacations with their location included.

A growing trend has been for teens to create a fake Instagram account or a “Finsta” that is only shared with a select few people. The content on a Finsta is typically much different than their primary account. We encourage parents to be aware of all the accounts their children may have.

Total number of active users: 1 billion

Average age of users: 25-34

How to edit your privacy settings: Your Profile > Gear icon at top-right corner > Private Account switch

Twitter is used as a micro-blogging and social networking site for users to share their thoughts and activities with others. Users can “Tweet” 140-chacterter posts as well as “Retweet” posts made by others.

Privacy settings allow Tweets to be made viewable only to Followers, which are individually approved. Parents should be cautious that loads of mature content, language, and drug and alcohol-related content can be found on Twitter.

Total number of active users: 335 million

Average age of users: 25-34

How to edit your privacy settings: Your icon on the top right corner > Settings > Security and Privacy 

Tumblr is a microblogging site used by teens to share pictures and quotes. 

App stores rate Tumblr as mature since a lot of the content generated includes offensive language, depictions of drug abuse and provocative or pornographic images. 

Total number of active users: 30-50 million

Average age of users: 18-29

How to edit your privacy settings: Click on your blog’s name at the top > Blog Settings

How to make a private blog: Click on down arrow next to blog’s name > Check the box beside Password protect this blog > Enter a password > Create Private Blog 

Snapchat has gained popularity as picture and video messaging app used to view and exchange “Snaps” for a select number of seconds before it disappears. Users may choose to send a photo to particular people or share their “Story” for all friends to view.

There is a common belief that pictures cannot be retrieved or saved once time runs out. However, recipients can replay or screenshot snaps. In 2014, Snapchat’s servers were hacked and it was revealed that the images don’t disappear. 

Total number of users: 191 million daily

Average age of users: 18-34

How to edit your privacy settings: Swipe up > Gear icon at top-right corner > “Who Can…”

Tinder is a dating app that allows users to browse photos of potential matches in the nearby area. Swipe right to “Like” a photo or swipe left to “Pass”. If a person whose photo you Liked also swipes right on your photo, the app allows you to message each other.

This app has a widespread reputation for its “hook up” culture and is not appropriate for teens. 

Total number of active users: 50 million

Average age of users: 25-34

Tips & Tools

  • Set Rules & Expectations – establish limits for which online sites children may visit and have a time limit for how long
  • Use Parental Controls – install blocking, filtering and monitoring software in order to restrict access to sites with adult content and see which sites your children visit
  • “Friend” or “Follow” – Friend or Follow your child's social media accounts to be aware of their online activities and monitor what they’re posting
  • View your Browser’s History – periodically check your history to see which sites your children are visiting
  • Use Privacy Settings – teach your children how to protect their personal information that gets posted online
  • Guard Against Predators – turn off location services on mobile devices and discourage the use of webcams and chat rooms
  • Teach Your Children How to Respond to Cyberbullying – report to an adult, block and delete

Encouraging an Open Dialogue With Your Kids is the Safest Way to Keep Them Safe Online

Talking Points

  • Once something is posted online, it’s impossible to take it back
  • Nothing is permanently deleted
  • Only share photos and content you wouldn’t mind being shared with other people
  • Never share your location, especially when out of town
  • Never share passwords with others
  • Don't share personal information on social media including address and phone number
  • Not everything you see or read online is true
  • Only accept friend requests from people you know
  • Never meet face-to-face with someone you know online
  • Check with a parent before purchasing anything online

Want more useful tips on cyber safety and good digital citizenship? Check out these links: