Over the coming weeks the St Patrick’s College Wellbeing team will be running a series of newsletter articles from the eSafety Commissioner. The purpose of these articles is to educate our parent community on how they can best assist their son in avoiding the pitfalls of social media. Please be mindful that these articles often use hyperlinks to support material.

The topic covered last week was:

1. Cyberbullying – supporting your child online

This week we are looking at:

2. Supporting your child’s safe online social networking

3. Protecting your child’s digital reputation

Please take the time to look over the hyperlinks provided within the article.

Supporting your child’s safe online social networking

Social networking is an extension of offline friendships and we should treat people respectfully in the same way we do in real life. Chatting to friends using IM, chat or social networking is a great way to stay in touch and make new friends. However, your child should always keep in mind that there are some risks meeting people online—especially if they don’t know them in real life.

Discuss the following aspects with your child to help them safely enjoy social networking.

  • Limit your friend list. Do you know your online friends in the real world? If not, consider changing your settings to limit interaction with them or remove them.
  • Protect personal information. Restrict information that people can use to access your finances, and to identify where you live, work or go out.
  • Check on your images. Does everything about your life really need to be online? How might this affect you and your reputation in the future? Take a look at the eSafety website for some tips for taking photos and videos and sharing them online.
  • Stay respectful. Are your posts respectful to friends and others? This is real life; being online is no excuse for bad behaviour.
  • Think twice before meeting offline. If you want to meet someone offline it is essential totake an adult with you, meet in the daytime and in a public place. Don’t share personal information too early.
It is important to note that there may be age restrictions that apply to your child joining a social network. Many popular social networks are restricted to users above 13 years of age. Check out the infographic “Is there an age limit for kids on social media?”

If your child or someone they know wants to talk about challenging online friendships, call the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Headspace on 1800 650 890.

Protecting your child’s digital reputation

Children, especially during their teenage years, learn the importance of their reputation as a part of growing up.

Offline, a child’s reputation can be established through behaviour in the classroom and the playground, their treatment of friends, and academic, artistic or sporting achievements. Your child’s online reputation is defined by both the content they post about themselves and what others post about your child.

Tagged photos, blog posts and social networking interactions will all shape how your child is perceived online and offline. A poor digital reputation can affect friendships, relationships and future job prospects. Children can protect their digital reputation by:

  • Thinking before they post. Does everything about their life really need to be online? How might this affect them in the future?
  • Setting their profile to private and checking privacy settings regularly to make sure default options haven’t changed. This will allow them to control who sees what they post online. Visit the eSafety website for more information on how to protect your child’s privacy online. The eSafety website has a section on games, apps and social networking with step-by-step instructions to control your settings for each social networking platform.
  • Keeping an eye on photos tagged by friends. Even if your child’s profile is private, the content friends post might be available for the world to see. Some social media sites allow users to approve tags before they are attached to their profile.

If you or your child wants to learn more about digital reputation issues, you can visit the eSafety website.

Mr Darren Kearney - Dean of Students