We do everything in our power to keep our children safe growing up, from teaching them to cross the road safely to understanding stranger danger if someone approaches them. But safety doesn’t just end when they understand physical well-being, especially with increased online interactions.

The internet is here to stay, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy place to navigate. Social media platforms are increasingly popular, allowing real-time communication with peers near and far. The most popular channels hold more than a billion active users, making it a busy place for impressionable minds. With over 80% of teens going online at least three times a day, having a solid understanding of cyber safety needs to start at a young age. Here are eight ways to protect your children on social media.

Understand the platforms your children are using

The easiest way for parents to keep their children safe on social media is through education and information. Spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the different sites available and how they function. Look for unbiased reviews from other parents and look for recommended ages for each website. While some social media networks will allow children to register, others have a minimum age requirement. Take note of what interaction options are available for each platform, including the messaging style, content posting, or online communication. Some venues have disappearing messages which are impossible to monitor, while others allow private reactions to public posts.

Determine Which Accounts are Appropriate for Your Child

Registering for an account isn’t difficult, even if your child is under the minimum age requirement (they can lie about their age for access). After you’ve had the opportunity to browse the platforms, consider your child’s maturity and the ability they have to navigate online. Some channels may be appropriate for a younger audience (like Facebook, for example); others may cater to an older crowd (TikTok content being a prime example). If your child has their heart set on a specific network, ask them why they’d like to register. Include your child in the decision-making process, but parents or guardians should make all final decisions. Always offer to revisit your decision in a few months if the child becomes frustrated or upset.

Always Keep High-Security Settings

Almost all social media platforms allow users to keep their profiles private or hidden online. This prevents strangers from contacting your children online while still providing access to connected individuals. Some networks will allow randomized messages, even if not connected, so keep all security options set to the highest ability. Always remind children to add people they know personally instead of random people (including online gaming friends).

Discuss Online Safety Before Allowing Access

As children often forget the impact personal information can hold, sharing intimate details online is not uncommon. Sharing personal information like birthdays, addresses, phone numbers, or identifying information like the school they attend can put their physical safety and personal identity at risk. If you discover identifying information on their social media account, run a free online background check. These checks are designed to determine the current details of an individual, including any new accounts or social media activity (someone posing as your child online, for instance).

Talk to Them About Account Security

Your child’s social media account is just a piece of their identity, but compromised accounts can cause significant damage. Sharing passwords among friends, choosing simple combinations, or using the same password among multiple places can hold negative consequences. Talk to your children about keeping their accounts safe. Never share passwords (except with a parent), always use an alphanumeric password, and choose a complex password to guess.

Have an Open Door Policy

With the increase of cyberbullying, having an approachable attitude is crucial for any parent. Children need to understand the importance of bullying and how to handle it if they are victimized. Bullying can include on the platform or privately in direct messaging. Ask your children about any interactions they’ve had recently and try to encourage open dialogue between you. Refrain from getting angry or upset by a conversation; your child wants to know you’ll support them through all situations. Keep a calm head and coach them through any instances of bullying. Likewise, tell your children to inform you if they receive requests, invites, or messages from strangers on the platform.

Establish Rules and Guidelines for Social Media Use

Social media can be addictive, especially when they receive attention or interactions online. It’s important to instill positive habits with your child early on, including limited usage early on. Discuss the time limits for your child during the week (when they have school), including the consequences for breaking the rules. Limitations can include daily access, posting requirements, or “lights out” time in the evening. Set your children up for success by explaining what you expect, why you expect them to follow the rules, and what happens when the rules are broken.

Enforce Open Use of Social Media

Although smartphones have made monitoring more difficult through the years, it’s essential to encourage children to stay in a local area while on social media. Your child should always access social media in a shared location (for example, the living room) where you can keep an eye on their interactions and posts. Likewise, let your child know that you’ll be checking in periodically, skimming through messages or their feed. You don’t need to helicopter parent your child while they’re online, but you do need to let them know the account won’t be unsupervised.