Five teens in brightly colored shirts standing in a row against a blue wall. All are holding their mobile phones and using social media.

Safety Guidelines for Social Media

Updated February 3, 2020 . AmFam Team

Social media is everywhere, and almost everyone has at least one social account on one of the major sites. Keep yourself and your family safe online by practicing these simple social media safety tips from American Family Insurance.

From posting pics of your pooch’s antics to chatting up long-lost friends, social media can be fun for the whole family! But as sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat evolve, it’s smart to empower your family with ways to keep their info and identities private — especially your kids. Here are some tried-and-true tactics that will keep you all happily #hashtagging for years to come.

Control Your Online Presence

You should be in control of the things that are posted about you online, especially your personal information. Here are a few ways to protect your identity and control what information about you and your loved ones ends up online.

Update your privacy preferences

Tailor your online experience by frequently checking your privacy settings on social media sites to make sure they’re set so only the people you want to see your posts can do so. Sites like Facebook often update their privacy policies, sometimes resetting user preferences in the process.

Change your passwords

Regularly change the passwords you use for your social media accounts, and try not to use the same password for each one. Keep passwords cryptic and long, and if you have trouble remembering them, try using password manager like Password Safe, LastPass or Bitwarden. These programs keep your passwords safe by encrypting them in a secure digital vault.

Upgrade your digital security

Set up measures like two-factor authentication on your social media accounts and email. Use an adblocking extension in your browser to keep pop-ups and other unscrupulous ads from loading malware onto your computer. Features like these can keep identity thieves from stealing your information and keep you safe from viruses.

Monitor your kids’ screen time

Most social media sites require users to be at least 13 years old before they can sign up, so for your teens, make sure you’re monitoring how much and what ways your kids are using social media. Limit screen time to a few hours per day and have frank discussions on what kind of communication your teen is having with others online. These things can go miles toward making your children safer online.

Watch What You Post on Social Media

While you can be proactive in protecting your accounts and information from being shared without your knowledge or consent, there’s more to be done when it comes to keeping your identity under your control. Your usage of social media is an important part of what information about you ends up online, so use discretion in your online interactions by following these tips.

Control your online identity

Use your account preferences to control what information is visible publicly and what can only be seen privately. Information like your birthday, your hometown and where you work can be used to find your full identity. Facebook is the biggest aggregate of personal data out of all the social media sites, but sites like Twitter and Instagram can also add your mobile location to your profile if you let them. Limit permissions on these apps to help keep your personal information private.

Know who you’re chatting with

One of the coolest things about the Internet is how it brings people from all over the world together. But be aware if you haven’t met someone in person, since you don’t 100 percent know if they’re who they say they are. Use caution online when talking to strangers, and make sure your kids are protected by monitoring their online interactions with others.

Share photos safely

A good rule of thumb is to only post photos you would be okay with your boss, parents or children seeing because photos — even if you delete them from your profile — are almost always permanently discoverable online. When posting photos, disable GPS so no one can view your location. Skip sharing photos that have personal information in them, such as street signs or license plates, that you may not want public.

Identity Theft Protection With American Family Insurance

Keeping yourself safe online also keeps you safe from identity thieves, but there’s even more you can do to protect yourself. If your identity is stolen, identity theft insurance can help protect you from the high costs related to restoring your identity. Having identity theft insurance with American Family means you’ll have someone by your side who can help you minimize the damage caused by identity theft and get your identity and financial reputation restored more quickly.

Using social media shouldn’t feel like navigating a minefield, so use these tips and feel confident you’re doing what’s necessary to protect yourself online. To further protect your identity, connect with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to learn more about our identity theft protection coverage. This coverage can help you minimize the damage caused by identity theft and get your identity and financial reputation restored faster should a thief get a hold of your information.

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