15 March 2024

Social media is so incredibly public. So naturally, it comes with privacy concerns. What you put online stays online and sharing personal information can leave your children vulnerable to fraud, impersonation, and so much more. However, in a recent survey of 339 LHS parents, only 13% said that privacy was their top concern regarding their child’s social media use. 

We think it’s important to keep privacy and safety on social media front of mind. So in this blog, we’re talking about how you can help your child manage their social media presence and give you the tools to discuss the potential long-term consequences of oversharing personal information online.

Managing their online presence

If your teen has a social media account – or multiple accounts across different platforms – they have an online presence. Over time, this will undoubtedly have an impact on them. Whether that’s positive or negative, well, that comes down to their usage of it. 

For example, employers or even universities may choose to check social media accounts during key recruitment periods, and any inappropriate posts or behaviour may work against them during the final decision-making process. But if they’re representing themselves in a positive light, it could demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit, showcase their outgoing personality or even promote the extracurricular activities they’re involved in which makes them stand out from their competition. 

Social media is very personal to the individual, which is what makes it tricky to manage someone’s online presence. Plus, especially when it comes to teens, it’s not uncommon for them to try to keep their online persona away from their parents. But if you want to help manage your child’s online presence, here are our five top tips:

1. Do an audit of your teen’s social accounts and how they’re representing themselves publicly. Do you think it accurately reflects who they are as an individual?

2. Help your teen to understand their ‘digital footprint’ and what this means. It’s not just the post to their feed or story – it’s their comments, likes, and reshares too. 

3. Encourage authenticity, ensuring their profiles reflect who they are. 

4. Set out some do’s and don’ts for your teen. This should include topics and the types of pictures and videos they should be sharing or avoiding sharing.

5. Talk to them about how they want to be seen publicly. What are they striving for? What do they want to be known for? How would they want their online community to describe them?

What not to share online

Sharing too much personal information on social media sites can leave anyone vulnerable to fraud and impersonation, regardless of age. Sharing the information below could put your teen at risk:

  • Full name
  • Full address
  • Date of birth
  • Telephone number
  • National Insurance number
  • School
  • Bank account details
  • Account information.

It may sound obvious, but having open conversations about the dangers of sharing this information – especially with people they don’t know – should be a top priority when it comes to their online safety.

Setting up parental controls

With all of this in mind, you might want to consider setting up parental controls on your teen’s devices. This can help give you peace of mind that your child is less likely to be exposed to inappropriate posts online and that they’re building their online presence in safer spaces.

58% of the parents we surveyed said that they’ve already set up parental controls on their child’s social accounts while a further 8% reported that they would like to but aren’t sure how to. 

If you have an Apple device, you can filter website content automatically to limit access to adult content in Safari and other apps. You can also add specific websites to an approved or blocked list, or you can limit access to only approved websites for your child. Here’s how you can do this:

  • Go to Settings and tap Screen Time
  • Tap Content & Privacy Restrictions and enter your Screen Time password
  • Tap Content Restrictions, then click Web Content
  • Choose Unrestricted Access, Limit Adult Websites or Allowed Websites
  • Depending on the access you want to grant, you may need to add information,
  • such as the website that you want to restrict.

If you have an Android device, these steps are quite similar. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Open the Google Play app
  • Click on the profile icon in the top right corner
  • Hit Settings > Family > Parental controls
  • Turn on Parental controls
  • You can protect your parental controls with a PIN
  • Select the type of content you want to filter, including apps and games
  • Choose how you filter or restrict access.

We offer more advice in our social media guide for parents. To download this, click here >>>