The Internet is a great resource, but it's important for you and your child to be aware of the challenges and issues that can occur online. As parents you may be wondering, "What is Twitter?" or “What do I need to know to help keep my child safe online?”
We've compiled some tips both for you and for you to share with your child about different issues or situations they may encounter online. Not a parent? Check out our Tips for teachers or Tips for teens for more information.
What you can do
Founded in 2006, Twitter is a social broadcast network that enables people and organizations to publicly share brief messages instantly around the world. The service can be accessed on the web at Twitter.com, on a wide variety of mobile devices and via text messaging. Available in more than 35 languages, Twitter has more than 200 million monthly active users. Visit www.twitter.com or follow @twitter for more information.
Remember Twitter is a public space
Most of the communication taking place on Twitter is viewable to everyone. Since the information posted is public, it can be retweeted on the site by anyone who sees it.
While Tweets can be protected so only approved followers can see them, most users share their Tweets with everyone. If your child wants their Tweets to only be available to approved followers, they can protect their Tweets.
Explain to your child that passwords should never be shared, not even with their friends. If the home computer is shared, remind them to always log out when they finish their Twitter session to develop good online safety habits. It's important to log out of any websites they logged into on a shared computer, otherwise, other people may be able to access their information.
Use online safety to connect with your child
Teens in particular may feel like parents are disconnected from their perspective and fear conversations about online safety will be awkward or embarrassing. Listen to how your child is using Twitter and other online mediums. Take their online relationships seriously, ask questions and perhaps even brainstorm together to come up with solutions to safety issues they have encountered.
Keep a healthy life balance
As a parent, you're a role model for your child. Demonstrate the importance of a balance between online and other activities by encouraging family activities offline as well as online.
Encourage critical thinking
Take the opportunity to not only learn about the sorts of situations your child is experiencing online but also use these to identify solutions and encourage critical thinking. Ask them questions like:
Who are you sharing this information with?
Can you trust all the people that see the information on your Twitter account?
How could your Tweet be interpreted?
Think before tweeting
As parents, you may have seen children say or write things that were not meant to be hurtful but that others found offensive or upsetting. Help your child evaluate whether or not something is okay to post by reminding them that if they wouldn't say it to the person's face or out loud, they shouldn't say it online either.
The nature of the Internet makes it difficult to completely erase content. Consider having a conversation about how what gets posted online can hurt feelings, affect offline relationships and even jeopardize future opportunities.
Block and ignore
If your child receives unwanted tweets from another Twitter user, we generally recommend that he or she block that user and end communication. Ignoring the content shows unwillingness to engage in such interaction, and in most cases, the aggressor loses interest. Blocking the user will empower your child by preventing the blocked user from following them. This Twitter Support article explains how to block other users.
When it has gone too far
If the unwanted online behavior is persistent, it may be rooted in "real world" relationships. If your child is experiencing repetitive bullying or interpersonal conflicts that are also taking place online, consider taking the following actions.
Coordinate with educators and other parents
Many issues can be resolved by working with school officials, other parents, or local authorities. While school officials may be unaware of what your child is dealing with, they may have additional resources or be able to offer assistance once you've talked to them about what's going on.
Report a violation
Twitter only removes profiles that are in violation of the Twitter Rules. Please remember, Twitter is a social broadcast network rather than a content provider and we do not mediate disputes between users.
Contact local law enforcement or legal representation
If something has gone beyond the point of a personal conflict and has turned into credible threats, whether it be online or offline, you should contact your local authorities as they are in the best position to assess the threat and intervene or assist as necessary.
If contacted by law enforcement directly, we can work with them and provide the necessary information for their investigation of your issue. You can point local law enforcement to our Law Enforcement Guidelines.
If you feel the issues are legal in nature, please seek advice from a lawyer. Twitter cannot offer any legal advice, nor can we provide other users' information except as required by valid legal process.
For more information, check out these resources: