Keep Your Children Safe on Social Media – WATCH This Video!

Teens Phones Text Technology

Are your children using social media? Do you know what apps they use? What pictures they post? Who’s following them? Children want so much to be accepted by their peers, and for many, their self-esteem is based on who “likes” and “follows” them, and on how many “friends” they have.

In light of the recent local incident involving a group of boys who uploaded inappropriate self-taken pictures of middle and high school girls onto an internet site, and the repercussions to the boys and girls involved, we can use this unfortunate situation as an opportunity to talk with our children about the short and long-tern problems they will face if they send, open, share or post a nude or semi-nude picture of a minor.

Have the conversation with your child if they have their own cell phone, iPad or other device where they could take and share pictures. According to Kenny Lynch, CMS Police Department detective, solutions to the problem lie both with the community and parents.
Here are some things to consider and some tips to share.

Click HERE to watch a Charlotte Today TV segment on “How to Keep Your Kids Safe on Social Media”.

Below are some tips to help you help your children.

1. Loan the phone. This idea came from the Davidson LifeLine organization who recently had a meeting with representatives from CMS, the Police Department, and child advocacy groups. Just like when we give a 16 year old keys to a car, we make sure that they know how to use the car first to be safe and not hurt others. So, when you give a child a phone (iPad, etc.) we need to make sure they know what to do to be safe. Explain the dangers of certain apps and when and how to turn off location services.

Explain to your kids that you are “loaning” the phone to them. So, as the person who really owns it, you need to have their user names and passwords to apps and things, and you may look at the phone at any time to look at text messages and pictures. This is not about checking up on your kids, but it’s more about making sure they are being safe. According to Kenny Lynch, a child is “less likely to make bad choices if they know mom or dad is going to look in on them unannounced.”

2. Set house rules. It’s so important to tell our children that we believe in them and trust them and to give them positive reinforcement and parenting. It is also important however, to have rules about the use of technology at home. You can for example:

  • Set a certain time at night where the phones and iPads, etc. need to be turned off and put in a particular place. This will avoid children staying up late texting or being woken up by a text, and it will prevent them being on social media late at night.
  • Also insist that phones never come to the table when eating so that you can have quality family time together which studies have found to be very beneficial to children, especially teens.

3. Teach what’s illegal. Here is an awful statistic – 51% of girls in this area say that they have had pressure from a boy to send an inappropriate picture of themselves, and 25% (1 in 4 girls) across the country have said that they have sent a nude picture of themselves. There are many reasons this is bad, but one easy and essential thing to share with your kids is that it is actually illegal to send, open, forward or upload a nude picture of a minor because it’s considered child pornography.

Kids can get expelled from school and even face criminal charges which will stay on their record forever, which means it will be hard for them to get into college and get a job.

4. Be an “upstander” not a bystander. Most kids do know right from wrong, but sometimes they do not do the right thing because their brains are not fully functional until the age of 25, and they make decisions too quickly and they take more risks. Since adults will not always be around to help kids make the right decisions, other kids need to step in when they see or hear about a friend doing something that could potentially hurt themselves or someone else. Encourage your kids to be an “Upstander” and not just a bystander when they see someone doing something wrong. So, this might mean telling your friend not to send an inappropriate picture to her boyfriend, or telling your friend it’s not cool to share the picture of the girl with others. Children also need to know who they can go to when they really have a problem and what they will do to handle the problem.

5. Pictures and posts never go away! Again, remind your children that what they post now can be seen by their grandparents, teachers, principals, future boyfriends, interviewers, colleges, bosses, spouse and even their own children one day. Make sure that they know only to post something they would feel proud of and happy about if everyone saw it.

For many teens, “their number one fear is rejection from peers,” said Ashley Flowers, area manager with Lake Norman Young Life. They are dealing with self-esteem and rejection 24-7? because of social media. As a parent, keep this in mind when trying to understand your child’s need to connect through social media.

6. Know your apps. As a parent, we need to take on the responsibility of knowing the latest in technology so that we understand what our kids are doing. Either find the information online and teach yourself, or hire someone to help you. Also, before jumping to the wrong conclusion about what you child is doing with a certain app like SnapChat, talk to your child to find out why they want to use it and then have a conversation about the dangers of each particular app. You can find this information online.

If you have any etiquette questions please email me at

Looking for an etiquette class for your children or a more mordern cotillion for your 5th – 8th grader, go to the Finesse Worldwide website HERE.

Aimee Symington is an etiquette expert, instructor in the Impressions program, and inventor of the Board Game on Manners, “Blunders.”