It’s never a bad idea to review your privacy settings on the social networking sites you use, and I strongly encourage you to take the time to look at your kids’ phones/tablets/pc’s to review the privacy settings they have in place. That can be a little confusing, and sometimes downright daunting. So, I’m going to simplify some basic steps here for three of the most common apps: Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Since all 3 of these apps default to ‘public’ access, this is very important. As a disclaimer, none of these 3 apps are designed for use by children under the age of 13. And, while those over 13 can set up a profile, we know as parents that there are real dangers with what our children are willing to share – or even unwittingly disclose- online. In addition to teaching proper netiquette and digital citizenship and setting basic boundaries- utilizing the privacy settings in social networking applications is essential.
You can change privacy settings from the app itself. Know that the default is that your profile is PUBLIC until you change this- meaning anyone can follow you and see/download/comment on what you post.
Tap the profile icon (last one at bottom right on screen)à click ‘Edit Your Profile’ à scroll to the bottom to see ‘Posts are Private’ button. Turn the privacy on to require approving follow requests.
You can control photo tagging and whether others can find you by your email address via the app, but you need to get into the Twitter.com site to utilize all of the privacy settings. You can do this from your mobile device as well as on a computer. Here’s what you do:
Login to your account on Twitter.com
Tap the Me icon
Tap the cog wheel icon, then tap Settings in the drop down box
Tap Security and privacy
Select Photo tagging settings – you can choose to allow only people you follow to tag you in tweets- or choose to not allow anyone to tag you in tweets. Know that the default is to allow anyone to tag you in tweets unless you change this.
Below Photo tagging settings is Tweet privacy. If you check the Protect my Tweets box, your tweets can only be seen by your followers. Why do you need to do this? By protecting your tweets, you will put yourself in a position to approve new follow requests and your tweets will only be visible to those you’ve approved to follow you. Other users won’t be able to retweet your tweets, and they won’t appear in search engine searches.
There are other settings in this area you may also choose to use such as Tweet location (add a location to your tweets- or NOT), Discoverability (by using your email address), Personalization (which allows Twitter to track your recent website visits and make recommendations based on this) and Promoted Content (which allows Twitter to display ads based on sites your visited with your browser)
You can manage your privacy settings through the app or the website. There are several steps to make sure you have everything covered. To get started, open the app and get to your menu on the left of favorites, pages, groups, apps, etc. Scroll down until you see Privacy Shortcuts under Settings.
Tap Privacy Shortcuts
Tap ‘Who can see my stuff?’ to select an ‘audience’ for your future posts.
Tap ‘Who can contact me?’ to control whether you want ‘Everyone’ or just ‘Friends of Friends’ to send you Friend requests.
Tap ‘More Settings’ and then ‘Privacy’. You’ll see a third category there called ‘Who can look me up?’
Tap ‘Who can look me up?’ to choose if you want to allow others to find you based on the phone number or email you provided and to choose if you want search engines to link to your timeline.
Tap the back arrow and then tap Timeline and Tagging (right under Privacy). Here you can do 3 things:
- Control who can post on your timeline. You can also turn ‘on’ the ability to review any posts your friends tag you in before they show up on your timeline. For kids- I highly encourage this.
- Control who can see posts you’ve been tagged in on your timeline and also who can see what others post on your timeline.
- Control any tags people add to your posts before they appear on Facebook as well as who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded.
Tap Blocking – to block someone so that they can no longer see what you post, tag you, start a conversation with you, invite you to events/groups, etc. Remember, teach your kids to be choosy. Unless they know someone personally, there is no reason to allow them to follow or friend you.
Tap Followers- to choose who can see your posts in your News Feed. Your choices are Public or Friends- make sure Friends is checked.
Seem like a lot of work? Lots steps and clicks? Ready to go back to the days when a mouse was something we set traps for or when we had what my daughter refers to as a “phone thing with a string attached to it that came out of the wall”? Social media certainly can be overwhelming, but more importantly, it can make our children easy targets for cyber bullies and cyber predators if we aren’t engaged.
Privacy settings are NOT an insurance policy against cyberbullying or cybercrime, and there isn’t an easy way yet to control them for your children. Until then, it’s up to us. Now that you know where to go and how to get it done, what are you waiting for?!