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Parents are forever concerned about online predators luring unsuspecting tweens and teens into their grasp, and while predators are a very real danger, they aren’t the only unsafe thing online.

Social media, while an awesome tool to connect with friends and family, can be misused like any other tool. This is especially true where young people are involved. Online you can be whoever you want to be. You can choose your username and hide behind whatever photo you want. Because of this it can be easy to forget that choices have consequences. And nothing that you say or do online is sacred.

It’s important for kids to understand that what they say online has a great amount of power. That nasty Tumblr message that they sent will be read by another human being, not just a username. Tweens and teenagers need to understand that their comments, posts, and messages will be read and responded to by other human beings. It’s never cool to pick on or insult another person.

On the opposite spectrum, kids also need to realize that cyber bullies should be reported to the social media website or an adult. Even if the bullies are so called friends. Toxic and unsafe people should be deleted ASAP. Social media pages should be a place for teenagers to connect with one another, not to feel threatened and anxious.

Another safety concern on social media is sexting. No parent wants to think about their child being involved in it, but make sure your teenager knows the repercussions of sending and forwarding inappropriate photos. It’s illegal for those under the age of eighteen to send nudes and those who forward them can be charged with child pornography charges. Not to mention, forwarding another person’s personal photo is an invasion of privacy.

Social media safety online is important for several reasons. Stress to your teenager that not only is everything that is posted online public and available for the world to see, but they don’t want future employers and colleges stumbling across a less than appropriate photo or Facebook post that could jeopardize their future. And most importantly, hurting another human being is never ok; whether it’s via sharing a photo they shouldn’t to get back at someone or posting a snide Facebook post about someone they dislike. You can’t control your child’s choices, but you can nudge them in the right direction and encourage them to make smart choices.