olly/Fotolia

6 Things You Should Never Let Your Kid Post On Social Media, According To A Police Officer

Ad failed to load

Social media opens up the world for kids and teenagers — and a can of worms for parents. By now, cyberbullying, screen time, and reputation damage are serious concerns etched into the brains of moms and dads everywhere. Add predators to the (digital) list, and it's amazing parents are still keeping it together. But this is why drawing clear boundaries around media use can help you live with a little less fear. After reaching out to experts, Romper learned that there are certain things you should never let your kid post on social media, and you've probably never considered some of them. It's impossible to monitor a child's every online communication, but having conversations about cybersecurity early and often can help kids negotiate the hyper-social universe that, quite honestly, overwhelms many adults.

Recently, Parents published a story about a teenager's Facebook update that cost the family $80,000. That's just one example of the potential harm a handful of words, carelessly tossed into the ether, can do. Harvard's rescinding the admission of 10 students over offensive social media posts, as NPR reported, is another. But dangers of a greater magnitude also lurk inside bits and bytes — just last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) gave parents a chilling reminder that child predators use Facebook, too.

So how can you can keep your kids safe in an online world that feels private, but is, in fact, as public as it gets?

Ad failed to load

1Photos With Location Information, Embedded In Metadata

Giphy

Did you know that smartphones record your location in metadata, and that this metadata is available to anyone on the receiving end of a photograph taken from that phone?

Me either.

Paul Grattan, Jr., a sergeant with the New York Police Department (NYPD) and author of the blog One Police Project, tells Romper that parents should check the privacy settings on all devices their kids are using, because "information embedded within the photo can reveal a child's recent location, home address, or travel patterns," and no one beyond close friends and family should be able to track your kid.

Here's how to quickly disable GPS features on your iPhone, according to OSXDaily. Remember to check the privacy settings again after a software update.

2Vacation Pics & Home Alone Humblebrags

Giphy

You tell your kids not to talk to strangers IRL. You also tell them never to give strangers information about their daily schedule — or yours. So explain to your child they shouldn't advertise the fact that they're currently on vacation (leaving the house empty, except maybe for Kevin), or that they're home alone all afternoon on Twitter, either.

But what's the point of Facebook if you can't share those pics of your ski trip in Vermont?

"A simple tip is to prohibit social media postings while away on vacation, but allow kids to share ... vacation highlights upon returning home," explains Grattan.

Another idea is to select a code word to communicate with close friends. 'Loving Vermont so much rt now' becomes 'Loving My Backyard' instead. Picking out a few other code words for home and school would probably be a lot of fun.

3Report Cards, Driver's Licenses, & Other Personal Identification

Giphy

Of course, parents want their kids to celebrate their successes — like their driver's license, or a straight-A report card — and share that success with friends. But according to Grattan, it's not a good idea to post pictures of any documents that contain your home address or other identifying details.

He does note that enforcing this is really hard, and no wonder. After all, kids are thinking of their real life social circle and not potential threats to their safety, when they post a picture of their college acceptance letter with their address tucked into the corner of the page. That's exactly why you have to create an ongoing dialogue around what the internet actually is — a public forum, not a private gathering place.

Ad failed to load

4Their Family's Info

Giphy

"As parents, we can each likely do more to keep our children from publicly sharing details of our own personal information, like their mom's or dad's name, but we must be reasonable and realistic," notes Grattan. "Full prevention here is an uphill battle — so I advise parents to worry more about who the information is shared with, rather than what information is shared."

Limit young kids to social media designed for children, which has more safeguards for youngsters than Twitter or Snapchat, for instance. You can also set privacy settings on social media apps so that kids are only sharing information with a small circle of friends.

Unfortunately, the bad news is that if you can Google how to turn privacy settings on, your older kids can also Google how to turn them off. Eventually, it all comes back to trust — the best way to keep your kids safe on the internet is to keep an open dialogue about what it means to behave well in public. While you should still monitor your kids, especially if they're younger, you don't have to worry so much about what might be slipping under your radar if you know your children understand the boundaries you've drawn.

5Too Many Revealing Details About Their Lives

Giphy

"Kids should be proud of their interests and accomplishments, and sharing on social media is a natural outlet for that," according to Grattan. "However, it pays to consistently make them aware that details of their lives like hobbies, extracurricular activities, pop culture preferences, and sports affiliations can be used by predators to gain their confidence or friendship."

It's a scary thought, but some pretty bad people do use the internet to find potential targets, according to the FBI.

While it may be impossible to teach your kids not to post anything that reveals how much they love skateboarding, for example (because they really, really love it), you can warn them that strangers may use that detail to try to insinuate themselves into their lives. Which is why you should make it clear that responding to strangers isn't a good idea.

Additionally, if a stranger contacts them, let them know they can come to you. "Children should be commended for reporting messages and other inquiries from people they do not know and trust," says Grattan.

6Anything That Might Come Back To Haunt Them

Giphy

Kids have phases, and kids make mistakes — it's practically in their job description. Human beings will let bygones be bygones, but unfortunately, the internet never forgets. Time reported on how social media got 10 kids kicked out of college, and Scientific American explained how a seemingly harmless bit of braggadocio (caught on video) hurt a young man's chances of employment, possibly for life.

Here's Grattan's take:

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Umm, Toys "R" Us Has A BOGO 50 Percent Off Deal So You Better Stock Up

After the holidays, you were probably hoping that your kid's massive toy collection would keep him entertained for a little while, at least. But that was wishful thinking, wasn't it? Because now that a couple of months have passed, all those must-hav…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

A Hot Mess Mom's Guide To Surviving Winter

As I sit here at my home office in Connecticut, it's cold. Damn cold. Winter is a rough season in New England and it's even worse when you're a parent and have to manage cooped up, restless children. It's even worse when you're a hot mess as it is, u…
By Jamie Kenney

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

8 Reasons I Let My Toddler Play Outside Unsupervised

I'm not a helicopter mom, but I'm not exactly a free-range parent either. I like to think of myself as safely ensconced somewhere in the middle. I insist on certain safety measures, like car seats and helmets. I prefer to keep my 2-year-old in my sig…
By Kimmie Fink

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack