Ruth Bastedo is Director, Business Development at Social Media Group. Follow @rutbas

How early should you start worrying about your kids’ digital footprint?

I think now is probably good.

As long time practitioners in the Internet space, both my husband and I started talking to our kids pretty early about how to handle themselves online. I have personally never been big on posting a lot of information about my kids, so there is theoretically not a lot out there now… but the kids are getting older, and are participating in the online environment in a very active way. It’s actually pretty sobering to think of how much of their young lives are supported by online activity.

From accessing calendars and assignments at school, playing games, homework research, movie watching and hours of YouTube fun, keeping in touch with friends and family… my kids are very much living a portion of their lives online. And they haven’t really started to engage in social media yet. That’s coming. My son came home the other day and said he wanted to set up a server for himself and some of his friends so that they could play an online game together in a closed network. He just turned 12.

This has suddenly become serious stuff, and I have started to look around at best practices, and guidelines for working with your children to not only ensure personal safety, but to also make sure that they learn how to be in control (as much as this is possible) over how their activities and profiles are portrayed online.

I also want my children to be able to maintain some semblance of personal privacy, and have some inkling as to how one might go about pursuing that objective, in an online world stacked against it.

Below you’ll find some of the articles and resources I’ve started collecting. Enjoy! And let me know if you have found anything particularly useful out there on this important topic.

Good Overview Resources on Topic

9 Tips for Managing Your Child’s Social Media Presence I really like this practical overview of sensible steps to take to help your kids establish a social media presence that they can have active management of from day one. This article aligns the closest to the approach we’re trying to take in our household.

“Kids and Tech: Parenting Tips for a Digital Age” Great interview with author Scott Steinberg, providing grounded, practical advice.

3 Ways to Keep Tabs of Your Kids Online Very hands on, for parents who want to take a more active approach to monitoring your teen’s activities on a variety of different devices.

Social Media, Social Life: How Teens View Their Digital Lives (this is a study). Look at the infographic,  or Download report from Common Sense Media. It’s a  good baseline look at teens behavior in a social media context in the US.

And finally, some solid advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics on the scary issue of “sexting”, and talking to your kids about it: Talking to Your Kids and Teens About Social Media and Sexting