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Signing A Contract With Your Kids To Keep Them Safe On Social Media

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Emily Hay (credit: Hay There Social Media)

Emily Hay (credit: Hay There Social Media)

gregbowman Greg Bowman
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By Greg Bowman

DETROIT (CBS Detroit) -The internet is like a permanent marker: Whatever you write will be there forever.

That advice comes from Emily Hay, founder of Hay There Social Media. Her company works with kids and parents to show them how to use sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram safety and effectively. Hay suggests that parents consider signing a social media contract with their kids.

“So there are some very obvious things you would have in a contract,” said Hay. “Like Mom and Dad are going to be monitoring. Mom and Dad are the owners of this device. But there are also some specific things parents should let their kids know, such as don’t share photos of your siblings. Don’t share photos within our house. Things that may not be obvious to a child, but for their safety, Mom and Dad need to have them in that contract.”

And Hay reminds parents and kids that whatever you post on social media sites will be there forever, even if you delete it. Even Snapchat.

“The way Snapchat worked,” Hay said, “is you could take a photo, share it, then set a time limit for how long you want that photo to be visible, and then it supposedly would self destruct. So kids felt very safe ‘Oh I’ll just post something I normally would not, because it’ll self destruct.’ But unfortunately, as soon as someone screen shots, as soon as another server has it, it’s out there for good. And that’s something parents need to remind their kids of over and over again.”

Hay stresses that parents need to stress with their kids that they will be closely monitoring what the child does online, no matter what device they use. And she says it’s a good idea to limit the amount of time a child can spend on social media sites, and maybe even set up a curfew when all internet devices need to be turned in to a central location in the house.

While it’s good to have safeguards in place for social media activity, Hay says parents and teachers should embrace Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, not fear them.

“Social Media is becoming a learning and teaching tool in the classroom, just like another technology,” said Hay. “So we find that many educators are turning to Twitter. They will set up a classroom Twitter handle. They’ll set up a Facebook group. They’ll tweet up reminders of assignments. They’ll be available to students at certain times on their Facebook group. They will also use Skype to communicate with students.”

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