BY CHIEF DEXTER WILLIAMS
The Miramar Police Department recommends you speak with your kids about using social media responsibly. While there are benefits to growing up with this technology, there are risks as well. Children today are more social media savvy than ever.
Discuss Expectations, Usage and Social Media Boundaries with Your Kids:
- Have open lines of communication with your kids about social media. Explain to them how social media is used for good and bad and how they must be aware of their behavior and the behavior of others while online.
- Discuss cyberbullying – the posting or sharing of negative, harmful, or false, content about someone else. Some cyberbullying can cross the line into criminal behavior. Posting threats of violence is not a “joke.” Those posting threats will be investigated thoroughly and may be subject to arrest.
- Advise your children not to engage in this and to report any bullying immediately to you.
- Speak to them about what a digital footprint is and how inappropriate messages or images could impact them in the future.
Know Their Account(s):
- Know which social media platforms your children use. They may have several – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Most social networks require users to be 13 years old or older. However, users can easily misrepresent their age.
- You should have access to ALL of your children’s accounts.
- Remember mobile devices, like cell phones and tablets, let children access social media sites away from adult supervision.
Know your Kid’s Privacy/Account Settings:
- You may want to create the accounts with/for your kids to ensure they are set-up correctly. Private information, such as the school they attend, should not be listed on their profile.
- Review app settings to help them keep information, like their current location, private.
- Ensure that their page is not open to the public.
Know what your child is posting:
- Check comments and images for personal information, such as phone numbers and addresses posted by your child.
- Check for inappropriate and/or illegal content, such as hateful or threatening speech and nudity.
- Speak with your kids about posting their location on social media sites or even posting pictures while on vacation. You don’t want a predator knowing where they are, nor do you want a burglar knowing you are out of town.
Who are your children communicating with?
- Your children’s online contact lists and followers may include people you don’t know, or even people your child only knows online.
- Randomly check your children’s friend list or followers.
- Adults send friend/follow requests to children every day. They also pose as children. Speak with your kids about not communicating online with individuals they don’t actually know.
- Check your children’s direct messaging (private conversations message board).
Where to report?
- If anyone talks to your child about sex, shares or asks them to share sexual images, or if your child is a victim of sexual exploitation, contact your local police department, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at www.CyberTipline.com or 1-800-THE-LOST.
- The Miramar Police Department is located at 11765 City Hall Promenade, Miramar, 33025. For general information, please call 954-602-4000. To report a non-emergency, call 954-764-4357. To reach the Miramar Helpline, call 954-602-HELP (4357). Stay Connected, Stay Informed @MiramarPD on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.