Tips for parents to help guard their student's information on social media

Social media is one of the biggest ways school children are communicating with one another. It’s also a quick way for strangers to gain access to children.

That’s why Crime Stoppers is offering five tips to parents who may want to speak with their children about social media.

Rania Mankarius, CEO of Houston Crime Stoppers, said social media is always changing, which can make it hard for many parents to keep up.

“We know 90 percent of kids are on social media as soon as they get a smartphone," Mankarius said. "So the task for parents is to figure out where kids are going, why, what they’re doing, what they’re going to share with you and what they’re going to hide."

Mankarious offered the following tips to parents:

1. Guard personal information, such as an address.

2. Don’t use real names to sign up for apps and games.

3. Be careful not to share too much information in posts or through pictures.

4. Don’t share location services, which can help strangers track you.

5. Be cautious about connections. Watch who your children follows and who is following them.

“You don’t automatically know everybody you’re connecting with," Mankarious said. "The people that say they’re a 13-year-old girl can easily be a 65-year-old man."

Mankarious, a parent herself, said parents should begin the online safety discussion before their children get a cellphone.

“It’s really important before you hand the tool over that you talk about -- just like their license when they get a car -- how important it is to stay safe,” she said.

For more resources, parents can visit crime-stoppers.org.