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VIDEO – Have Your Privacy Settings Changed?


When cyber security experts give tips about how to use social media safely, most advise you to make sure you have the highest possible privacy settings in place. Whilst children are generally tech-savvy and can figure their way around new apps without any problem, most are not quite as savvy when it comes to online safety.

Going through your child’s social media accounts and changing the privacy settings to the highest possible in each app is always a good idea, but unfortunately as you’ll discover below it may not be quite as simple as you think.


Privacy Settings Don’t Guarantee Online Safety


There are lots of mistakes people, and especially children, make when it comes to privacy settings in apps and on social media platforms. According to the Pew Research Centre, 60% of teens keep their profiles private, at least on Facebook. Lets put the other 40% of teens as well as the much higher percentage of pre-teens who don’t use privacy settings aside for now.

When teens and tweens use the highest privacy settings they tend to believe that their information cannot be seen by anyone that they don’t intend to see it. As a result, they share images and messages that they definitely would not be happy for certain people to see – whether that be their parents, teachers or simply strangers.

The message that needs to be communicated to these kids is that even with the highest privacy settings in place, screenshots can be taken and messages can be shared. Kids show each other their phones at school all the time. The idea of not sharing something online unless you’re happy for anyone in the world to see it just hasn’t sunk in with many kids yet at all.

In saying that, it’s better to have the highest possible privacy settings in place than not to… there’s just more to it than most people realise.


How To Set Privacy Settings


Every social media platform and app has its own method of setting up privacy settings. Usually it isn’t difficult to put basic privacy settings in place, however there may be several steps you need to take. According to Tricia Munn of “Eyes Open Social Media” it takes 48 minutes to set up the highest privacy settings in Facebook, and 28 minutes to do the same in Instagram – who would’ve thought?!

The best way to find out how to set up privacy settings is to simply google it for each app you and your children use. I wouldn’t bother trying to memorise the process if I were you as it can change with updates to each app. There are often also instructions within the app. Alternatively Trish and her team at Eyes Open Social Media can help.

There are some apps that don’t allow you to use privacy settings, so anything you post can be seen publicly by anyone. This is generally a red flag that the app is probably not somewhere you want your children to be.


Privacy settings that increase online safety


Privacy Settings Can Change Without Your Knowledge


Security updates are common on most apps, browsers and social media sites. Unfortunately these are necessary because there are people constantly trying to instal malware like ransomware and other nasties so they can cause problems for users. The security updates are the app’s way of protecting you against the latest malware attempts, so it’s important always to install security updates as soon as you receive them.

However, each time you install an update on an app, you may be automatically un-installing the privacy settings you had set in place. It’s a bit of a catch 22 – install the latest security update to be safe, but then you lose the privacy settings that you thought were also helping you keep safe.


Review Your Privacy Settings Regularly


Yep, unfortunately privacy settings are not something you can afford to put in place once and then not worry about it, ie they’re not a “set and forget” thing. Most people – both adults and children – don’t realise this, and so many who set their privacy settings when they first start using an app fall under the mistaken belief that their privacy settings are still set to the highest possible level months later. This is leaving many users vulnerable to sharing information much more widely than intended.

How often should you review your privacy settings then? Ideally it should be whenever an update has been installed on an app-by-app basis. Alternatively you could just delegate one day a month to quickly check each app. Once you know what you’re doing it won’t take long, and the small investment of your time will be well worth it for your own peace of mind.


With technology changing so quickly and new apps appearing every day, it’s challenging to keep up with it all. How do you know if an app is safe for your children to use? How do you even know what they’re using each app for?

If this is something you’d like help with then you may find the Peaceful Digital Parenting monthly membership very useful. You can check it out right here


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