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Monitoring Children’s Digital Footprint

Jun 06, 2018

By editorial team and Sophia Ruan Gushée

Looking around, it becomes obvious how digital devices have seeped into every aspect of society. And children are spending more time online than ever: The average young person spends 7.5 hours consuming media each day, and that’s just outside of school. Often, kids are more web-savvy than parents are.

Facebook is among the most commonly used social media website for youth. And children are accessing social media at an increasingly early age. According to the Daily Mail, 52% of youth between the ages of 8 and 16 have ignored Facebook’s official age limit of 13 to register.

Given the reality that children spend a lot of time online and have profiles on social media, below are tips on how to protect one’s digital presence and monitor your children's digital footprint.

Tips to protect children’s presence online

Children will naturally not consider that what they publish online may become public record. Simply having conversations with your children about their social media presence can help. The things they publish on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog posts, or YouTube videos can remain online for the rest of their lives.

Below are talking points that may help your conversations with your children. They're also good reminders for adults!

  1. The information you post on the internet can be there permanently. Once a Facebook or Instagram update has been posted, it can be shared and archived on the Web, and even saved by the social media servers. When posting something on the internet, ask yourself:
    • Is this something you'd be comfortable having published on the cover of the New York Times?
    • How may this information represent you? Have you considered what your close friends and family would think of you if they saw this post?
    • How do you think someone would feel if they saw this post several years from now?
    • Is there room for misinterpretation?
  2. The standards for posting something online should be higher than what you would say to someone face-to-face
    • For example, if you don't have anything nice to say, then maybe you shouldn't say it. Printing something mean or disrespectful online can be even more harmful than communicating the same content in a conversation.
    • Don’t post inappropriate photos or anything that may cause embarrassment later. Consider what a future employer or admissions officer at a university may think of you.
    • Use the privacy settings of social media websites. Users on Twitter or Instagram can set their posts to be seen only by users that have friended them on the social media service. Facebook users can set their privacy settings so that only their friends can view their posts, or only people who know the email address associated with their Facebook account can add them as a friend.

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This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Views expressed in this article by an expert are the views of the expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Nontoxic Living or Ruan Living.

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