My heart breaks every time I read about a teen killing herself after suffering cyber bullying. And I get scared with every news report about sexual predators using social media to target kids.
My own daughters, 11 and 13,
do not yet use social media, but I know that the time will come when they will, very soon probably, especially for the older one, and I can’t help but worry. Social media is a wonderful tool for adults, but in the hands of kids, it can be ruthless and dangerous.
UPDATE: A mere two weeks after writing this post, my younger daughter had announced that “all her friends are on Instagram” and begged for her own account. We agreed, after going once again over Internet safety rules, and on the condition that we use SafeSocial.
SafeSocial is a service that helps provide Internet safety for kids by proactively allowing us parents better insight into what our children are doing on social networks such as Instagram or Facebook.
SafeSocial sends you an email alert every time your child is active on social networks – whenever they write something on Facebook (as a post or a comment), whenever they upload a photo to Instagram or comment on a friend’s photo, and every time something is written about them on their Facebook or Instagram page. The email alert contains the content of what has been written, and a link to it.
In addition, photo uploads and posts that contain photos are scanned for inappropriate content and flagged if they seem worthy of additional scrutiny.
These alerts can be sent in real-time, as they happen, or on a regular schedule.
There is no need to actively go to the social network and look for your child’s activity – everything is proactively sent to you via email. You don’t need to be the child’s “Friend” or “Follower,” and you don’t even need a Facebook/Instagram account of your own.
SafeSocial is respectful of the child’s privacy. Neither SafeSocial nor you need to know your child’s password or other social network account info, and SafeSocial does not store any information in the application. It just notifies you of the activities.
In fact, one of the best things about this tool is that it works with complete knowledge and cooperation of the child. They must opt-in, so there’s no ‘big brother’ type spying going on without their knowledge. Interestingly, most kids welcome this additional layer of protection. I suspect that secretly, our kids want us to supervise and protect them.
“But I’m my child’s friend on Facebook. I have her password. I visit her profile regularly. I would become aware of any issues without SafeSocial.” Well, check this out – a Facebook post by a teenager that I happen to know. She’s a good kid. Her parents are wonderful, attentive and caring – and they are her Facebook friends – yet they had no idea that she posted this on her timeline.
Obviously, SafeSocial should not come instead of talking with your child about safe online behavior. But even the savviest, smartest, most dependable kids make mistakes online, and SafeSocial provides an added layer of protection and can help parents catch those mistakes before they escalate.
Joining SafeSocial is easy. There’s no software to download and install. You just provide your name and email, as well as the child’s email, and you are set.
A typical SafeSocial Alert looks like this:
To get started, simply go to Safe Social, provide your email where you would like to get alerts, your child’s email, and choose a password. Your child will get an email asking him/her to install the app. The app installation is a simple two- click process. Once completed, the service will start sending you notifications about your child’s social network activities.
And you’ll regain some peace of mind.
*Disclosure: I believe that SafeSocial is an amazing tool, and use it for my own daughter’s Instagram account. I do have a personal interest in promoting SafeSocial: my husband is one of its co-founders.