Across the country, children are using social media younger and younger.
Safe on Social Media uses the term "Parenting at the speed of light". We speak to parents and carers most nights of the week and have found that they are struggling to keep up with what children are using to communicate with their friends online.
We will be emailing out practical tips for parents and carers each week. This way we can help you to help keep kids in your care stay safe on social media without having to be an expert on every single app they are using.
Our primary position on Social Media use is to ask that parents and carers respect age restrictions, and game classifications they are there for a reason, and most apps are 13+. However, for those that have decided that their child can use apps younger than the recommended age, we need to make sure children are safe and well educated on risks that are easily avoidable.
YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Musical.ly are the most popular, with very young children. One of the questions we always ask in our talks with children is to tell us how they identify that they are following a real celebrity. We step them through a case study and ask them to point out what is missing. It is rare that Primary School age children can answer the question. The reason we ask is that we have seen multiple fake accounts trying to lure young people into following them. In extreme cases, we have been told by young people during our talks that they have received private messages from celebrities. Conversations with these "celebrities" often involve asking for inappropriate photographs of the young child. Please make sure that your children know that a celebrity will not send them a private message. Ever.
Be aware that whenever someone who is hugely popular with young children is touring the country, fake accounts start to appear. For example, Ariana Grande is about to visit and we may see fake accounts being set up pretending to be her but there is someone who you do not want contacting your child hiding behind the fake profile.
Fake accounts will often have a slight typo in the name, usually so minor that a young child will not be able to notice. You cannot monitor 24/7 what your child sees on social media unless you are holding the device and hovering over their shoulder. Even with monitoring devices in place, some things slip through. They are never foolproof solutions. We support building a relationship based on trust and a good education that you can provide children with knowing the basics.
Our first "parenting at the speed of light" tip is to educate on what verification is.
Every parent and carer needs to know how to identify a real celebrity. Most major social media platforms have a verification process to prove that it is the real celebrity or organisation. Please check through with children each celebrity account they are following and unfollow the profiles that do not have the following verification symbols in place.
- Facebook a tick in a circle next to the name of the page.
- Instagram it is a blue circle, with a white tick in a circle next to the name of the page.
- Snapchat calls its verified accounts "Official Stories". When you follow a famous person on Snapchat, you'll know they're verified if they have an emoji to the right of their name. And yes, celebrities get to pick their emojis.
- Twitter has a blue circle with a white tick in it beside the name.
- Musical.ly has a crown emoji next to the profile picture of the celebrity.
- YouTube has a red tick in a white box with a red border.
If you have any questions please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kirra Pendergast - Director, Safe on Social Media Pty Ltd