Who has a front row seat to your child’s life?
It’s no secret that teens post millions of photos, videos and personal things to social media daily. Instagram alone boasts 95 million photo posts every 24 hours!
Do you ever wonder who is watching your child’s life unfold via social media? Parents of minor children should review each person following their child on social media to ensure safety. We like to call this process taking a friendventory.
Taking a freindventory is quite easy and only takes a few minutes when done on a weekly basis. Most of your child’s social media friends should be easily recognized by you, the parent, as a real life acquaintance or family member. As a rule of thumb, the younger your child, the fewer cyber friends they should have. If your child is 13 years old and has 1,000+ Instagram followers, you should to be concerned. Children just starting out on social media should have a few dozen cyber friends.
It’s very tempting for kids to want hundreds of followers even if many are complete strangers because more followers means more likes. This type of approval or acceptance can be very dangerous for young minds and can cause all sorts of issues. In addition, there is also the risk of posers pretending to be a friend.
Many predators use the most popular social media platforms to befriend unsuspecting children by pretending to be a peer. Tragically, these predators have been successful in luring children away from their homes and committing horrible crimes. Other times, posers gain the trust of a child and then ask for lewd photos or videos which can lead to blackmail or sextortion (refers to the broad category of sexual exploitation in which abuse of power is the means of coercion, as well as to the category of sexual exploitation in which threatened release of sexual images or information is the means of coercion. Definition by Wikipedia).
Steps to a Friendventory:
- Sit with your child with their device in hand.
- Open each social media app and review each follower (or friend).
- Look for suspicious followers and drill down on each one. Things to look for:
- Followers with no posts
- Followers asking people to chat on other networks
- Inappropriate photos.
- Ensure that you are comfortable with each follower and that you understand why they are following your child.
- Be sure to check friend requests during this process.
- Block suspicious followers.
Here is an example of a suspicious follower who has now been blocked from my son’s Instagram account:
It’s important to perform a friendventory on a regular basis as there are thousands of posers who constantly change and create new social media accounts targeting innocent users, especially young teens.
My name is Barry Crutchfield and I live in Austin Texas with my wife, three boys and a dog. I am cofounder of Toxic Apps LLC, a company dedicated to keeping children safe in today’s digital world. For more information please visit http://www.toxixapps.com
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The descriptions of and warnings related to the various Apps discussed herein are based on opinions of Toxic Apps, LLC, and have been developed in a good-faith effort to educate parents of minors and to define risks for children. Others may have wholly different opinions.