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November 7, 2013updated 22 Sep 2016 11:00am

Top 5 ways parents can keep kids safe online

Top tips on protecting children on social media.

By Duncan Macrae

The new privacy policy Facebook has introduced for 13- to 17-year-olds has been marketed as a policy that tackles some of parents’ primary concerns.

But is the security really any better than it was before? The social network’s new settings for 13- to 17-year-olds will default to "Friends Only" viewing setting. Anyone who is not an approved friend won’t be able to see that user’s posts unless the user clicks the "Friends of Friends" (public) option before posting. In the past, the default was "Friends of Friends" and had to be changed to a more private setting by the user.

Teenagers will now also receive a two-part reminder before they post, which will allow them to decide if they want that post to go public or be kept between friends.

When it comes to children’s online safety, it’s the parents who really have to take responsibility – and control. Here’s how.

1. Keep in the loop

The new privacy settings could now be preventing you from viewing your child’s Facebook activity. Make sure you’ve been officially "approved" as a friend so that you can keep an eye on your child’s Facebook feed.

2. Be a disappointment

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Your child might not care as much about their privacy as you do. Keep up-to-date with the latest developments on current social media news, apps, technologies, and trends. Your child might not like the idea of you interfering but don’t be afraid to disappoint them in your effort to keep them safe.

3. Beef up monitoring

Social media sites can only do so much. The rest is up to you and your child. For added protection, install monitoring software. Tech security firms, such as McAfee for example, offer filtering software that can cut your digital parenting worries in half.

4. Spot check accounts – thoroughly.

You must be diligent in checking your child’s friend lists, direct messages, and private or secret groups your child may be part of on Facebook.

5. Patrol the biggies

While we are primarily discussing Facebook’s new privacy settings here, let’s not forget the other big social networks where cyber bullying, sexting and security breaches occur: SnapChat, Instagram, and Twitter. Remember, your child will usually access these networks via their phone or tablet but you can login either on a PC or phone. So, be sure to have all current passwords.

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