5 safety tips for Facebook and Instagram that all parents with teens should read

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Facebook brought us closer, but having an online profile exposes you (and your kids) to the world in ways that you cannot even begin to imagine.

Did you know that Facebook invests in research to understand the impact its platform has and offers training within local communities to teach people to be safer online? I got to hear a bit more of their efforts last night…

5 safety tips for parents with teens on Facebook and Instagram

Facebook wants you, your children, family and friends to feel safe from bullying, harassment, scams, inappropriate content and other cyber dangers when using Facebook and its family of apps (Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger). They work with external experts, including a safety advisory board, to gather feedback from their community to develop policies, tools and resources to keep you safe.

In South Africa Facebook works with partners like Digify Africa who launched Ilizwe Lam with in 2018. This programme is aimed at training teens on the importance of Internet safety. Parents also have a critical role to play in educating teenagers about online safety. Here are a few tips on engaging with kids and discussions you could have about their online safety.

  • Under 13? You shouldn’t be on Facebook or Instagram yet! Facebook and Instagram require everyone to be 13 years old before they can create an account (in some countries, this age limit may be higher dependent on local laws), and we encourage parents to have these conversations with their teens
  • The same rules apply online and offline! Your teenager can avoid most potential dangers and concerns online by simply stopping to think before they submit a post or accepting a friend request. Teach them to think before they engage with strangers online.
  • Engage early. Research shows that many children as young as six have access to smartphones or tablets. Talk to them about technology, before they are on social media.
  • Help them to check and manage their privacy settings. Once your teen has set up a social media account, they can use Facebook privacy settings to control who can friend them, who can see their posts, and if they share details such as their location by default. This can help them to control their exposure to bullying, harassment and other potential concerns.
  • Show them the tools they can use to filter content and people from their feeds. Instagram offers many flexible tools to keep teens safe online – keep them informed about the options. We’ve rolled out keyword filtering, bullying filtering and sensitivity screens, for example. People can also restrict unwanted interactions on their profiles and easily report accounts, comments and posts for bullying.

For more information, you can visit the Facebook Safety Centre, Facebook Parents Portal, Instagram Together and Parent’s Guide to Instagram.

Here are some more helpful links to protect your Facebook account and reporting of inappropriate content (and profiles)

·         Infringing on your intellectual property, you can report it here:

·         Facebook Safety Centre: 

·         Facebook Security Tips:

·         Tips to Spot False News:

Please follow the Facebook Africa page : where you’ll find some tips and latest updates from the Facebook Africa team.

I have a few rules I follow online with my kids too – and they might just surprise you!

My kids are very far from being teenagers, but keeping them safe is my top priority.

  • I never LIVE tag our location
  • I will never check in at their school, at someone else’s or our own house
  • You don’t have to use their real names on “open platforms” where it is more than friends and family
  • They always have to wear clothes and not be in a pose that may be misconstrued by twisted individuals

For parents with kids slightly older I would highly recommend teaching your kids not to post photos of them in their school and sports uniforms. It is so easy to find school emblems, then Google the school for its address. Not to scare you, but by the time a criminal knows your kid’s name, where they’ll be, who their friends are and likes and dislikes from what they post online… your kid could be a walking target. I have personally seen how easy it is to gather all this information – and it scares me.

I am a Johannesburg based freelance writer, social media manager - and of course share bits from my life with you on this blog. We have 2 kids through surrogacy and 3 black cats.

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