Social media is a game changer for keeping up with family and friends, but the convenience becomes a huge burden when sharing too much, or inappropriate, information. The pitfalls of social media are hitting the millennial and younger generations particularly hard – bad choices documented for the public to see have resulted in hiring difficulties, loss of college scholarships, trouble at school or embarrassment in general. Now that school is back in session, it’s the perfect opportunity to review safety on social media with your children.
The best way to monitor your child’s social media is to be following them on platforms so you can see everything they post. You should also sit down and discuss what your family considers appropriate to post, review their privacy settings on each account and set rules on what should never be posted (Think: family’s vacation plans, addresses, phone numbers, etc.). Most importantly, your family should have a discussion about repercussions of what they post online – particularly in a court of law. Privacy settings do not protect you in a court of law. Courts have determined that there is little to no reasonable expectation of privacy with regards to actions on social media. Deleting or “cleaning up” a social media account if an incident occurs won’t help – in fact it could get parties into more trouble. The moral of the story, everything that you post could be scrutinized and used against you!
Another point to mention centers around Snapchat, Instagram stories or any message that you consider private. These images and videos do not go away forever. In fact, many of these companies will store these images for a period of time. Showing or sharing of inappropriate videos and pictures, particularly of minors, can bring very serious charges, including possession or distribution of pornography. Users may think that they are being sneaky, or even safe, by using this picture-sharing platforms to avoid having evidence on their text messages or camera rolls, but they could be charged with a felony for these actions.
When it comes to best practices for social media, we always recommend posting sparingly and keeping it positive – when in doubt, don’t post.