Twitter is a giant among social networks. The ease of use and rapid-fire element makes it a handy communication tool for anyone who wants to keep in touch with friends or associates. But while Twitter can be a great place to hang out online, the site has an anything-goes nature that makes it a potential threat to teens and younger children. When it comes to Internet safety for kids, popular social media channels like this need to be part of the conversation. The following tips should be enforced by parents who want to make sure their children are as safe as possible when socializing on Twitter.
1. Be Smart With Passwords
Twitter accounts are hacked all the time. Once hackers are inside, they can gain easy access to personal information and the ability to post messages on behalf of the victimized user. To prevent an intrusion, passwords should be a mix of letters and numbers, at least six characters in length, and they should be never shared with others. Consider getting a password manager to not only store passwords and personal data in a secure, encrypted database but to also help generate random, strong passwords.
2. Configure Privacy Settings
Twitter has a built-in search engine that allows user to comb the network for tweets. That means anything you post can pop up in one of these searches. By enabling the "Protect My Tweets" option, users can make sure these posts stay off-limits to search queries and are only seen by approved users.
3. Don't Share Personal Information
There could be anyone lurking behind any given social media profile. A hacker. An identity thief. A predator. For this reason, kids should be instructed to never share any personal information that could potentially reveal their identity or location when interacting on Twitter. This goes for profile information as well as private photos and videos.
4. Tweet Wisely
A seemingly harmless tweet can inflict a lot of damage when it insults someone or puts someone in danger. This is often the case even when the message is later deleted. Parents need to help their children understand the power of these messages and the importance of thinking before tapping that "Tweet" button.
5. Don't Befriend Strangers
Social media offers an exciting way to connect with new people, but it is also a haven for creeps looking to manipulate the unknowing behind the mask of anonymity. Parents would be wise to enforce a policy that restricts their children to only following and communicating with people they know. This tip not only ensures Internet safety for kids, but protection offline as well.
6. Approach Links with Caution
Tweets not only contain punchy words of wisdom, but links to images, videos, and other content. Because Twitter members often use link-shortening tools to maximize character usage, the source of these links can be difficult to identify. Bottom line — links could lead users to rogue sites harboring malware, phishing scams and other security threats, so they should be approached with extreme caution.
7. Install Antivirus Protection
Once a link is followed from Twitter, all it takes is a few ill-advised clicks to put the entire family network at risk. With that said, a peace of mind is just a click away — download free antivirus software. A good program will ensure that all connected devices are protected against threats that originate from Twitter or other sources.
8. "Follow" Your Kids
This idea may not be popular with kids, but for concerned parents, it's arguably the most practical and effective way to monitor the situation. Following your child on Twitter gives you an opportunity to listen in on these public conversations, and see what they're sharing in terms of photos and videos. More importantly, it positions you to be the first party alerted of instances that involve drug use, stalking or bullying.
Industry-leading security software vendor Kaspersky published a parent control infographic that identifies some of the inappropriate material content kids encounter online. It is essentially yet another research effort put together to illustrate the importance of initiatives and technologies built around Internet safety for kids. Like the Internet itself, there is both a light side and a dark side to social media. Parents are strongly urged to communicate with their children so they know how to behave and how to react to situations when engaging on a site like Twitter. Coupled with quality security software, this open communication can ensure that social networking is a safe and rewarding experience.
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