• By Ryan Farley, Extension Agent

4-H/Youth Development

Using social media wisely

Source: Rachel Noble, 4-H youth development specialist

Social media is very much a part of our culture, with many young people and adults regularly using the outlets to connect with their friends and family. When used appropriately, social media can be very positive. When misused, there can be serious consequences for a family. Instances of cyberbullying and sexting have increased with the popularity of social media. In some cases, thieves have used social media accounts to target their victims.

Some social media outlets have member guidelines, such as Twitter and Facebook which require account holders to be at least 13 years old. However, some young people falsify their ages to gain entry.

Here are some tips to help you and your children safely navigate social media platforms.

• Make sure you and your child use your real names and ages when activating social media accounts.

• Personal information, such as social security numbers, home addresses, phone numbers and details about when you’re on vacation or not home, should not be posted on social media sites as it can make your family a prime target for thieves.

• Make sure you and your child personally know each person listed as your friends or followers.

• Use social media privacy settings but realize that not everything you say on social media is private.

• Monitor your child’s accounts and your friends’ and followers’ feeds to make sure no one has posted any private or inappropriate information about you or your family. Ask your friends to remove any information involving you or your family that you feel is inappropriate or private. Remove tags from any inappropriate photos your friends may post of you and your family.

• Remind your child that what they say and do online can have real-life consequences, both now and for their future.

• Encourage your children to talk to you if someone’s online behavior makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened. For more information on online safety, contact Woodford County Cooperative Extension Service.

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