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Online Safety: Keeping Your Children Safe on the Web
Online Safety: Keeping Your Children Safe on the Web

In recent times, social media has become a cornerstone of communication. It has transformed the world’s various social ecosystems into a combined town square where friends meet, ideas are shared, and business is conducted.

It also, however, has its own risks with misinformation and targeted deceptions such as with the recent tragic news on TikTok.

These risks are more pronounced for younger and more impressionable audiences and so it is more important than ever to understand what you can do as a parent to prevent your child from falling victim to negative influences without isolating them from the world of social media entirely.

The first step is to set up your child’s social media account to allow you to oversee its activity and prevent harmful content from reaching them. Some recommended options for TikTok are listed below:

1. Enable Family Pairing: by linking your child’s social media account to yours, this enables you to monitor its activity including frequented content and messaging.
    This can be done by following the below steps to link your account:
        a) In the TikTok app, tap Profile at the bottom.
        b) Tap the Menu ☰ button at the top.
        c) Tap Settings and privacy, tap Family Pairing, then press continue
        d) Tap Parent or Teen.
        e) Follow the steps in the app to link accounts.

2. Restrict private messaging: You can limit or outright deactivate private messaging to prevent any direct outreach by suspicious accounts to your children.
3. Content Filtering: By helping your child specify types of content he/she wants to view, you can reduce the chance of them stumbling onto generalized dangerous content.

Most if not all social media platforms have similar settings to the ones listed above and we recommend you explore such settings if your children intend to use such platforms.

Second, it is important to prepare your child for the online environment they are trying to be a part of. Getting your child to understand the risks of social media can help them avoid negative influences outright using their own judgement, and below are some tips for that:

1. Communicate with your child frequently on their social media usage and warn them that social media content cannot be trusted at face value.
2. Encourage them to ask you about any content or advertisements that seem suspicious or that they are unsure of
3. Make it very clear to your child that you are always there to help them if they ever feel that they have shared sensitive information or have otherwise been victimized online. They should understand that you are 100% on their side no matter what.

Finally, understand the importance of moderation. Banning your children from using social media can have adverse effects too, so the best course of action is to help them navigate it and make sure they feel free to talk to you about any of their concerns. If they do not fear that their family would shame or punish them for their online actions, they will not hesitate to come to you for help when they need it the most.