How to create a social media policy for your family, baby sitters and more

Tech experts say parents should create a personalized social media policy and communicate the guidelines with anyone who cares for their children. (WISH Photo)
Tech experts say parents should create a personalized social media policy and communicate the guidelines with anyone who cares for their children. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Does your family have its own policy on social media? Some tech experts say you need one. And not just for parents and kids, but also grandparents, baby sitters and even friends.

Picture this, you’re out on a date night and checking your phone, only to find your baby sitter is posting pictures of your children publicly to Facebook with the location sharing enabled. It’s a scary thought, but you can avoid it by creating clear guidelines for anyone who may be caring for your kids.

“I think people have to take a clear stance on it, just because the internet is a very, very scary place,” Lisa Schuiteboer said.

Schuiteboer is a working single mother. As she takes a quick coffee break from her job responsibilities, she often scrolls through social media feeds.

“I do have some accounts for the other ones, but honestly Facebook is the easiest one that most people I’m connected with are on,” she said.

Schuiteboer said she and her ex-husband have worked together to keep their four-year-old daughter’s virtual footprint private, outside their family and close friends.

“If you do a Google search for her nothing comes up or anything like that,” Schuiteboer said.

But while many parents take steps to control social media, some families have a big hole in their privacy plan. What about when someone else is watching your kids like a baby sitter or even techie grandparents?

“I don’t think they have ill intentions. I think for so many of us, social media is just second nature. We see something cool, we pop it on Facebook,” Kristen Chase, publisher of CoolMomTech.com, said.

Chase encourages parents to consider all social apps, not just Facebook. Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat and Periscope are just a few others those spending time with your kids could be using.

“It doesn’t necessarily need to be a super serious sit-down. It depends on the person. And I think being prepared in advance as to what you think is ok and what you think they shouldn’t be doing is important,” Chase said.

Chase said there are several factors to keep in mind and she offers these questions to ask yourself while piecing together your social media policy.

1. Should you be friends with your child’s caregiver on social media?
Ask yourself: Do I need access to a caregiver’s social media updates? Do they need access to mine? What purpose does it serve for us to be friends on social media?

2. Photo and video sharing
Ask yourself: Do you want photos of your kids texted to other people? Do you want photos of your kids on social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat? Do you want their names used? Are there certain photos you specifically do not want?

3. Location sharing
Ask yourself: Do you want the location of your kids to be published on social media sites? Does it matter if it’s shared with friends only? Do you want your caregivers sharing locations while with your children, even if your children are not in any photos?

4. Know your apps
Ask yourself: Have you read the Terms of Service on apps before you start using them? If your caregiver is using an app you don’t know, have you checked it out to see what it is?

“When you’re dealing with kids, you need to be really cautious about that,” Chase said.

For Schuiteboer, she believes a private Facebook page for her daughter and limited connections is the way to go.

“I know it’s not right for everyone, but for our situation it works really well, I think,” Schuiteboer said.

Chase said once you’ve put together your family’s social media policy, it needs to be clearly communicated with hired caregivers like nannies or baby-sitters and also family members that spend time with your kids. And don’t forget coaches.

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