Texas Living

A Parent’s Guide to Social Media Safety

By Augusta Neal 9.8.14

Social media is a world of its own, complete with a written “language” and worldwide “followers.” In fact, if Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest. As it grows even more present in our daily lives, it can be hard to keep up with and understand. Consider this your “parent’s guide to social media,” and see how it can keep your household safe in the cyber world.

Social Media & Safety 

A lot of people don’t know that Facebook requires users to be a minimum of 13 years old before creating a profile. If your teen is of age and active on our world’s most popular social networking site, make sure his or her profile enables strong privacy settings. Everyone has the power to edit who sees posts (both photos and status updates), who can contact you, and who can look you up.

Encourage a “social media night” with your family to check settings, talk about what’s appropriate, and why it matters. As a general rule of thumb, parents should be on each social networking application that their teens are active on.


A great platform for sharing photos, creating events, and keeping in touch with friends all over the world. Many businesses are on Facebook to offer special discounts, inside information, or even useful life-hacks and interesting facts. This app is embraced by people of all ages, although younger people are transitioning to newer apps like Twitter and Instagram.


This app provides short snippets of information chronologically in a real-time newsfeed. You can “follow” friends, brands, and celebrities. Use hashtags to search other related tweets and even see what’s trending on a worldwide, national, or local level. Be sure you (and your teen) protect your tweets.

Twitter tip: Be sure to turn off your teen’s “location” setting to ensure no one can locate where he or she is tweeting from.


Similar to Twitter and owned by Facebook, this app displays filtered photos in chronological order. It’s among one of the most popular apps used by pre-teens, teens, and twenty-somethings. Instagram is a great tool to look up #GardeningTips and #EasyRecipes!



Widely used by young people between the ages 13 and 23, this app allows users to send a photo or video, viewable for up to 10 seconds. Snapchat provides relief for parents with a safety center that explains usage and privacy settings.

While younger children are able to download Snapkids, it’s recommended for your kids to wait until later teen years.


FourSquare is a location social media platform (LoSoMo, for short!). This allows local communities to “check in” places, leave “tips,” and post photos of products. Users receive badges for their activity, and are eligible for FourSquare-exclusive discounts. If sharing location is a concern for you as a parent, it’s best to limit your teen to viewing “check ins” and tips, as opposed to contributing.

Keep in mind, no matter how restrictive a personal social media profile may be, any activity or post has potential to be seen by a larger audience.