In our Internet Safety Talks For Kids, we recommend using Real Names, Real Photos. People question this which is understandable. This is a social media profile preferred by many Police forces around the world. Police Forces in California, Italy and Japan do schools talks recommending this.
We believe that social media accounts ought to be private, a setting that must be regularly checked, not assumed. Real Names and Real Photos mean that children are naturally more cautious and realise there is nowhere to hide. Facebook agree on this point with the Police.
This means having to check your kid's phones randomly and using parental control to enforce it.
Social media profiles ought to be recognisable on sight. People using fake names and profiles find it all too easy to be mean. They can depend on anonymity to deny it was them. Isn't it time for schools to start insisting on this as school policy, the bare minimum. Teachers will push back, of course, however, it's way better than dealing with the fallout from a serious social media incident later in the year.
Real Name, Real Photos and Privacy (called 'My Friends only' in Snapchat) is a circle of trust where kids don't abuse each other because their accounts are real, not fake. It's called 'social media not 'bully' media, and it should be honest, real, not fake. Many parents disagree strongly. They want my kid to use a proxy name to keep them safe. We disagree equally strongly.
Setting up fake accounts means only one thing, why would you permit your kid in such a group. Open up her social media and ask him/her to identify her friends following her or the other in the group. Wouldn't you feel a lot more confident if you could identify his/her friends from their profiles only without having to ask who they are?
If you can't identify them, who are they, why are they there? We don't let strangers wander through our homes, so why would we do so online. Is the fake news brigade taking advantage of your kid? Your kids might say, trust me, mum, I know what I am doing, no they don't know, they are just doing the same as their friends. Friends, not followers, that what we want. Challenge your kids to explain the difference between Friends and Followers.
Facebook tells us that followers are 10 times more likely to cause trouble online, followers with fake names, who think they are free to bully, hate, troll without fear of being identified. We speak about this regularly on radio. If your daughter has 1000s of followers, she will get bullied, so says Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook. Facebook has said previously they delete 'billions of fake accounts' across all their platforms every quarter.
1. Real Name
2. Real Photos
3. Privacy settings switched to 'Private', 'My Friends Only'.
Snapchat 'My Friends Only'
TikTok - Private