As parents we’re constantly being told we need to monitor our children’s movements online, their social channels, who they’re talking to and to watch for bullying.  But, as parents, there’s no one doing the same for us? How do we know what we shouldn’t be doing online?  We’ve put together some top tips for your personal use of social media and that of your child’s school, club or nursery.

What to share, what to keep private and how to check?

We live in a sharing society where we now chart our child’s lives online, sharing everything from their first steps to their first day at school and beyond.  For most of us, the internet has been part of our lives for many years, but social media is still evolving, it’s barely a decade since it’s been in common use.  It’s also one of the fastest changing areas of technology, with new features being rolled out almost monthly. This can make it hard to keep on top of it and even harder to monitor. Did you know that the three dots under your cover picture give you the option to ‘view as’?  This gives you the option to view your profile as others do and is the quickest way to see exactly what you’re sharing and who can see it. When you write a post, you can also change who can see it by clicking the drop down menu next to the post.  If this is showing as public, that means anyone on Facebook – friend or not – can see that picture of your children.  If it’s set to friends just your friends can see it.  Friends of friends means all of your friends’ friends can see those pictures. The same applies to tagging.  If you have your privacy set to friends, or friends of friends, that means that if your friend tags you in a post, their friends can still see your photo.  However, by switching this to custom, it allows you greater control of who can and cannot see your posts and things you’re tagged in. It’s advisable to keep your friends list hidden. Finally, are you aware that your feature photos will be visible in a general search on Facebook? A word about your school’s Facebook group Most PTAs now operate a Facebook group, which is great for communicating with all the parents at the school, but how safe is it?  You may be sharing information about where the children are, what they’re doing and any external activities. All groups which involve you as a parent or your school, should be closed.  This means the group can be found in search, but only members can see the posts within it. A designated parent or school admin should also control who has access to the group and check that they are, in fact, a parent of a child in the school.  If you’re not sure your school are practising in this way, raise it with the headteacher so they can make the necessary security checks.