By Lynette Owens
Throughout the summer vacation months, most (if not all) kids are spending that time with their phones in hand. While you’re all taking a well-deserved break from the school year, don’t take a vacation from using social media in smart ways. Here are a few skills to help your kids remember and practice before they head back to school:
- Tell them where you’ve been, not where you are: Have fun and snap lots of pics, but think about posting them after you return from your outing. Remember not to advertise that you’re away or tell the world exactly where you are. If you want to share photos during your vacation, change your privacy settings so that the geo-location tagging on your phone’s camera is off and people won’t be able to see your exact location.
- Be a vocal fan: This summer, your family may be exploring new shops and restaurants, enjoying summer camp, or checking out a show. Tweet about, friend, or follow these organizations on social media and let them know how much you like them – after you’ve been there!
- Tag with caution: Tagging etiquette is always something to keep in mind, especially when on vacation with family and friends. If you tag someone in a photo that you post, that person becomes subject to your privacy settings (whether or not you tag a user in your photo, your whole network may still see the image). Respect other people’s privacy by simply asking their permission before tagging them in a post. Some parents prefer not to have their children’s photos all over social networks, so remember to double check before you post.
- Find a hobby: Rather than spending your summer break binge-watching a Netflix show or scrolling through your Instagram feed – find a hobby to fill up your free time. Enjoy your time off, get together with friends, go for a walk, bike, hike, travel and volunteer! Remember to set limits on how much time you spend on your smartphone each day and strike a healthy balance between online and offline activities.
- Keep in touch, but not too much: Texting and Snapchatting are great ways to stay connected with friends and family when you’re traveling, but think about those you’re with now. Constantly looking at your phone can take you away from what you’re doing in the moment, so try to leave your phone in the hotel room, unplug and have some fun in the sun! If you cannot part ways with your cell phone, strive to conserve your precious battery power for capturing photos and videos of your adventures!
During the summer holidays, relax and have fun doing things you wouldn’t normally do during the school year. It’s absolutely fine to share what you’re doing with far-away friends and family on social media, but do it in a healthy, safe, and balanced way.
Lynette Owens is the Founder and Global Director of Trend Micro’s Internet Safety for Kids and Families program. With 20+ years in the tech industry, Lynette speaks and blogs regularly on how to help kids become great digital citizens. She works with communities and 1:1 school districts across the U.S. and around the world to support online safety, digital and media literacy and digital citizenship education. She is a board member of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, an advisory committee member of the Digital Wellness Lab, and serves on the advisory boards of INHOPE and U.S. Safer Internet Day.
Follow her on Twitter @lynettetowens