Parents urged to discuss children’s online posts on ‘most shared Christmas ever’

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Parents are being urged to agree social media rules with children ahead of what experts are calling the “most shared Christmas ever” online.

Web safety group Internet Matters has issued a “12 shares of Christmas” list of tips for parents to help protect children from over-sharing on social media, which includes guidance on reducing the amount of personal information children share when posting images and other content to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks.

A new study by the group claims that less than half of parents (42%) have given their children advice or agreed rules on what to post online.

Carolyn Bunting, general manager of Internet Matters, said parents must do more to stay on top of technology.

“Millions of children in Britain will be unwrapping new smartphones or tablets on Christmas morning and, as our research suggests, many will use them immediately to share their Christmas online,” she said.

“While it’s fantastic that so many people will be sharing Christmas memories and family moments, it’s also crucial that parents are aware of what their children are posting and are getting involved in their kids’ digital lives.”

According to the group, in the time it takes to cook an 9kg turkey - 4.5 hours - more than 1.3 billion images will be posted online, with more than 7 billion images expected to be shared on Christmas Day alone.

These figures, combined with Internet Matters research that claimed 60% of children now use the internet alone in their bedrooms, are reason enough for parents to discuss social media use with their children, the group says.

“Parents might be surprised by how much their children will be sharing on Christmas Day,” said Ms Bunting. “Everything from the presents they’ve received from Santa right down to dad snoring away in front of the TV at the end of the day. So it’s important that parents sit down and have regular conversations with them so they can set rules and boundaries.

“We have created some tips to help parents understand the potential risks of over-sharing online, from the amount of personal information they are making available to knowing who they are talking to, and ways to keep it appropriate and fun.”

The tips include discussions around privacy settings, inappropriate selfies, not sharing their location when posting and playing games or speaking with strangers online.

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