Back-to-School Social Media Safety Tips

Girl Scouts of the USA DC photo shoot on Tuesday, July 21, 2015, in Washington, DC. (Photos by Leslie E. Kossoff/LK Photos)

As school starts up again, girls are beginning to spend more time online doing homework and interacting with friends. Although social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest require users to be 13 years or older to sign up, New York Magazine reports that more than half of children join social networking sites before age 10.

“Social media can be a great tool for teens to stay connected with friends and family, but it’s so important for girls to follow age restrictions and practice safe habits online,” said Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital CEO Lidia Soto-Harmon. “Parents can help their daughters by following these social media safety tips.”

1. Know her friends.
Talk to your daughter about who she friends on social media sites. Remind her not to accept friend requests from anyone she doesn’t know.

2. Think twice before posting.
Whether she’s sending a Snap or uploading photos to Instagram, assume that everything that goes online stays online.

3. Keep it private.
Check your daughter’s privacy settings to make sure her information and photos are only accessible by her friends. She should never post personal information like her address, phone number or location on social media, or share her password with friends. Girls should also be mindful of posting photos with identifying information, such as a t-shirt with the name of her school.

4. Set limits.
Establish limits on screen time—and make sure you follow them, too! Set a good example by limiting your own smartphone use and engaging in technology-free activities with your daughter.

5. Get smart on cyberbullying.
According to Girl Scouts of the USA, 85 percent of middle school students say they’ve been cyberbullied at least once. The Girl Scout aMAZE Journey for girls in grades 6-8 is designed to help girls maneuver through a complex world of relationships. When combined with the BFF (or Be a Friend First) Bully Prevention program, girls gain the tools and confidence they need to safely resolve conflicts. Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital offers BFF in 46 middle schools throughout the Greater Washington Region.

Girls can commit to Internet safety by signing the aMAZE Internet Safety Pledge.