When should I start talking to my daughter about using social sites and apps responsibly?
As soon as your daughter begins to go online, you'll want to explain that the Internet has rules that must be followed. Through the primary school years, you'll sit with your daughter as you visit sites or play apps together, and you'll gradually taper off into a more supervisory role. Here are some of the key rules for online interaction to discuss.
Be a good digital citizen: A good rule of thumb: If they wouldn't do something in real life, they shouldn't do it online.
Avoid strangers: Tell your kids that people aren't always who they say they are online. Explain that if someone they don't know talks to them, they shouldn't respond and should let you know.
Keep some stuff private: Your name, address, phone number, and how much money your parents make should stay private. But your hobbies, favorite ice cream flavor, or pet's name all can be fun stuff to share with like-minded folks online.
If your daughter does end up joining a social network -- whether she's 10 or 16 -- here are some ground rules that work for many parents:
Use privacy settings: Privacy settings aren't foolproof, but they can be helpful. Take the time to learn how privacy settings work on your daughter’s favorite sites and apps, and teach your kids how to control the information they make public or private. Encourage them to check privacy settings regularly, since sites' policies often change.
Tell your kids to think before they post: Remind them that everything can be seen by a vast, invisible audience (otherwise known as friends-of-friends-of-friends), and, once something's online, it's hard to take back.
Be a friend and follower: Each family will have different rules, but, especially for younger kids, it's a good idea for parents to have access to their kids' pages, at least at first, to be sure that what's being posted is appropriate. Parents can help keep their children from doing something they'll regret later.
Keep private information private: Don't share your home address or other sensitive information online.
Be respectful of others: Teenagers may use social media to act out because they feel anonymous and that their actions are consequence-free. Make sure they understand that the Internet is a giant community that works best when everyone respects each other.