One of the great parenting sites I follow is Parenting Today’s Kids. Parenting Today’s Kids covers a variety of issues parents need to know about including cyberbullying, teen dating and living life online. Below is one of their recent articles by Lisa Shaw that covers not only privacy but the safety concerns for kids on Twitter.
Don’t Let Privacy Setting Goofs Hurt. Is Your Teen Protected?
By Lisa Shaw – June 5, 2012
Whether or not you need to know that someone just had an awesome corndog from the vendor on the corner of 9th is not the issue. Your kids probably feel the need to know these constant and consistent updates from friends, celebrities, and strangers. They are growing in a technology age that thrives on instant gratification, including corndog updates. Twitter is one of the leading tools for connecting users with bite-sized pieces of information and status updates. Each message is composed of 140 characters or fewer, and the topics and languages are fair game. If your teens are using Twitter, it’s time to make sure they are protected from status updates about more than lunch on the corner and that their own tweets are appropriate as well.
Setting Up a Secure Twitter Account with Your Teen
There are several basic steps that can be taken in order for your child’s tweets to be private and protected, but these are not the general default settings.
- The default setting is public. Public tweets are visible to anyone, even those without a Twitter account.
- Tweets that were made through the public setting will always be publically available, even after you switch to the protected setting. The new setting is only applicable to tweets made under that option.
- The protected setting requires that every person who requests access to follow your child’s tweets must first receive manual approval from your child. Once these users have been approved as followers they will receive tweets from your child.
- Other users cannot re-tweet protected tweets.
- Your child’s protected tweets will not be visible in Twitter or Google searches.
- Your child won’t be able to share permanent links in their tweets unless the receivers are preapproved.
Safety Issues and Twitter
Not only is it important to make sure that your child’s Twitter settings are set to protected, but understanding the overall security features of Twitter is valuable as well.
- Be sure that your child’s Twitter account has been set within the Account Preferences to Always use HTTPS. This will ensure secure encryption and improve the safety of Twitter uses, especially when using Twitter in a public WiFi network area.
- Your child will know if he has a secure connection if the browser’s URL bar shows https: andTwitter, Inc. in the color green.
- The Twitter applications for iPhones and iPads will automatically download tweets over a secure connection.
- Your child can search for and choose to follow strangers, companies, and organizations. Be sure there are a few ground rules for safe following.
- If your child is experiencing bullying or harassment via her Twitter account, you can help her block the user.
- Have your child log in to her Twitter account and go to the profile page of the person she needs to block. Click on the person icon and select “Block” from the drop-down menu.
- Once they are blocked those users cannot follow your child, see profile pictures of your child, or add her Twitter account to their lists.
Keeping kids safe from some of the dangers of technology is not always easy, but Twitter does do a fair job in promoting security and providing platforms for private accounts. It is then up to parents to be diligent in their interactions and supervision to make sure that their kids are tweeting and following appropriately. In true Twitter style, the following will be 140 characters or less: Nothing promotes safety like involved parenting and open communication, along with a few well-planned security features.