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Nothing's Secret on Social Media

Child looking at tablet

​​​This information is included in our Guide to Parenting in the Digital Age. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

A judge recently granted the government's request for Twitter account data of individuals involved in the Wikileaks controversy. She ruled that they are public accounts and there should be no expectation of privacy.

Whether you agree with the ruling or not, the point is this:  Anything on your child's social media​ accounts is open to possible public scrutiny and it's important that you know what your child is posting out there.

That means whatever your child puts on his or her Facebook account, Twitter or any other social media sites is public and searchable. So if kids are posting embarrassing pictures from the weekend or making crude comments about a friend, those pictures and comments are neither secret nor sacred.

Making decisions about what information can be shared and what should stay secret is a skill that takes time to develop. Unfortunately, many youth have not mastered this skill when it comes to using social networks. As a parent, it's up to you to help them recognize what's appropriate and what's inappropriate, and then monitor their messages.

Sit down with your kids and ask them what sort of things they talk about with their friends. Then ask if they would want everyone they know to overhear what they say. Explain to them that when they post something on a social network, they are making it available to anybody anywhere who has an account on that social media site. Most importantly, teach them that some information is worth keeping private.

When used properly, social media for kids can be a fun, interesting way of communicating. Social media sites can also be dark, dangerous places where people, including your kids, can get hurt. Take the time to do what it takes to protect and educate your kids about social media safety.