Michael A. Yorio, President SSI Guardian
Social media is a great method to connect with friends and family over the summer and during the start of a new school year. Students and parents, however, should be aware of safety precautions to take when using social media websites. Check out these three social media safety tips for back to school.
Caution Using “Check-In” Social Media Features
Checking in online can be a fun way to let your friends know where you are, especially if it’s an exciting concert or special event. However, it also gives potential threats access to information about your location and what time you were there. If you are travelling alone, or if you are not in a position to be completely aware of your surroundings, avoid giving out your location online, and save a “status update” for after you have arrived home safely.
Never Post a Phone Number Publicly Online
Many people change phone numbers throughout their lives, and it can be a hassle to move contact information from an old phone to the new one. One recent trend has been to post their new number on a social media site and ask friends and family to contact them so they can acquire their new contacts list.
However, posting a phone number online often means that more than your friends and family will have access to it. Criminals can use a reverse phone number lookup tool to find out who you are, and may even give your phone number to others who can contact you and harass you. This also holds true of posting home address and all other personal information.
Signs of Cyberbullying
Bullying is the #1 attributing factor to school shootings and root cause of a high number of teen suicides. School can be a rough place for kids who are the victims of bullies, and bullying online is easier than ever before with so many students using social media and web-based communication sites. Cyberbullying can occur via text, email, or social media. New forms of communication and information sharing are constantly becoming available, so check the phone and computer regularly if you have any suspicions.
Look for signs like anxious behavior when they’re using the computer or a phone, unwillingness to share information about their online life, unexplainable head or stomach aches, sudden weight loss or weight gain, or even suicidal thoughts or attempts. If you notice any of these signs of bullying (online or otherwise) take time to talk to the victim and assure them they are not helpless or alone. Monitor your child’s electronic activity to be certain.