This article originally appeared on http://sixtysecondsocialmedia.com.
Mark Dalton specialises in social media and digital marketing news. You can find him on Twitter here.

Parents, do you know where your kids phone is right now? Do you know what is going on in your kids social networks? As school heads back over the coming days and weeks you can bet that social media will start to heat up.

School was tough enough socially when I was attending, however with social media added to the mix it can be tough on kids and a dangerous playground if abused by teenagers. You don’t need to be intrusive into what your kids are at on social media, however there are things you can do to make sure they are safe and responsible online.

 

1. Have guidelines and boundaries

Establish ground rules for the use of mobile phones and devices both at home and at school, have a conversation with your kids about how to use their phones and be sure to listen. If you take the role as policeman and not helper then there is a big chance of your kids turning to their peers for social media advise.

Download some of the apps they use and explore them for yourself, don’t, under any circumstances force them to friend you on social media if they don’t want to. This is the modern day equivalent of sneaking into your kids bedroom to rifle through belongings and see what they have been up to.

Allow them to use social media and various social apps but try them out yourself so that you know what they are all about and you will be aware if it is something they should not be using.

2. Be aware of social media and cyber harassment

Educate kids returning to school on the various forms of cyber harassment such as bullying, inappropriate material, account impersonation and general bad behaviour. Educating your kids on these different forms of cyber bullying could possibly lower the chance of them becoming a victim. Students need to understand what kind of behaviour constitutes harassment so that they can report it effectively.

Students should be educated on how to use social media responsibly, how to alter privacy settings and also how to report or block people who may be abusing them on their social media channels. Cyber harassment is sadly part of the internet however there are steps that can be taken to try and reduce the impact if may have on students heading into a new school year.

3. Stay current on what is happening in the social media world

Be proactive, if you don’t know what Snapchat is and how to use it then you are way behind. Keep an eye out for new apps that hit the internet for students to download and educate yourself on what they are and how they work by downloading and trying them out for yourself.

Be aware of social networks such as Yik Yak, 4chan and parts of Reddit that are not appropriate for students to visit and partake in. Try and stay up to date with hashtags and various trends in the social media sphere.

Knowing what is going on so that you can prevent harm coming to your kids is crucial.

4. Consider establishing a ‘no-cell’ zone

Experts caution that a well lit device screens can cause sleep troubles if used right up to bed time. Try establish time before bed where well lit screens are not used, this should help you kids get a better night sleep each night before another day at school.

There are health benefits to this and a good night sleep is crucial for students.

People, teens in particular get very brave behind a keyboard and behind their social media profiles and say things they would not do face to face, being prepared for as many different scenarios as you can be is the key to battling social media problems in schools.

School is back, so extra care with social media while respecting the boundaries of your son or daughter can go a long way in preventing any nasty scenarios or cyber bullying potentially evolving during term time.