The Parents' Guide for using Twitter


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A guide from the ASA for parents to inform them about Twitter and to help them maximise safeguarding for their children.

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parents guide to twitter parents guide to twitter section 1 getting started section 2 child safeguarding


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section 1 getting started what is twitter created by jack dorsey in 2006 twitter is a social networking service that enables users to send and read other user messages called tweets these are essentially text messages but with data held on the internet rather than your phone you can send 140 character messages which includes spaces and these appear on the authors profile page they are publicly visible by default but can be hidden from twitter users outside your or your childs group of friends see section 2 for more on this users may subscribe to other author tweets known as following subscribers are known as followers users can follow individual authors or create lists of authors to follow tweets can be sent or received through the website external applications or text services on mobile phones it has over 100million users across the world creating a twitter account to create a twitter account for you or your children first visit the website do not go to


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follow the link on the right hand side to sign up you or your child will need an email address if you use your email address then you can monitor through your email who is following your child and whether any direct messages are being sent twitter will then ask you for the following information full name please note that your or your childs full name will appear on the profile meaning that other users will be able to search for you this cannot be kept private so think about the profile name you want to be public username the username will be your or your childs identity on twitter this is the name that will appear in messages or tweets password choose a password to protect the account consisting of seven characters or more see 2 safeguarding for more on password safety try to choose a mixture of numbers and letters but it needs to be memorable dont write it down and ensure you or your child doesnt let anyone know what it is email an email is sent for initial validation of the account you can opt out of any further notifications or updates even though your email address will not be publicly displayed you have the option to let people find you using it please note that by clicking create my account you are accepting the terms and conditions set by twitter .


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twitter will send you an email in this email is a link click on it to confirm that the email address is real and you want to join twitter you should now have successfully created a twitter account getting started finding and following to use twitter effectively you will need to follow and be followed by users tweeters following someone on twitter means you are subscribing to their tweets and their updates will appear in your personal timeline on your twitter homepage see picture below if you follow @homeofswimming or @britishswimming for example you ll get their updates on your homepage when you log in when you follow someone they will then have permission to send you private tweets called direct messages also see 2 safeguarding below your follower/following statistics are listed on your profile page to follow someone go to their page in the top left hand corner of the page you will see a button follow click on it and a green tick will appear next to the word following to return to your home page click home twitter timeline:


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how do i know who i or my child is following after you click the follow button on someone s profile you re following them and they appear in your following list if you click home on the top right hand of the page you will find the words following followers and lists click on following and you get a list of who you or your child is following remember when you or your child follows someone they can send you or your child private messages removing people being followed when you have clicked on following you will find two buttons to the right of the person you are following one allows you to add them to a list the second gives you options to send a message block mention report or un-follow the person the button is called actions choose un-follow and it will remove them from your following list how do i know who is following me by default twitter sends an email when someone new follows you set up your or your childs email preferences to notify you when you have a new follower this can be found by going to settings and clicking on notices tick the relevant checkbox to make your choice see 2 safeguarding for more the followers link on the main profile page or home page s sidebar will show you how many followers you have and who they are can i restrict who follows me or my child or sees updates yes protect your profile protecting your profile means everyone who wants to follow you submits a request for your approval only approved followers can see your twitter updates which will not appear in search engines see 2 safeguarding for more is `following like `friending someone on other social networking sites unlike most social networks following on twitter isn t mutual in other words someone who thinks you re interesting can follow you and you don t have to approve or follow back deciding to follow back and changing your mind later is fine just visit the person s profile page and un-follow twitter does not send a notification when you un-follow someone if you want to approve who follows your tweets you can just protect your account the same rules apply ­ you can approve followers but you don t have to follow back if you change your mind visit your following page and un-follow them i don t want a particular person to get updates but i don t want to protect my profile when all else fails you can block someone from following you but they will still be able to see your tweets because your profile is public to block use the actions button mentioned above and choose the option block.


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twitter navigation so what can you find on each page of twitter the navigation is simple home this where you find all the tweets you have signed up to by following you can also access all direct messages see where your tweets have been mentioned this will be the @twitterusername link favourites and access where your tweets and been re-tweeted see glossary below for more there is also a trending column this shows you the most popular topics being tweeted profile this is how you look to the outside world this is what everybody else sees find people a search that allows you to find tweets by topic find contacts from google mail or yahoo search twitter for names of friends or invite people to follow through emailing them settings this is the area from which you can make changes to your account it is split into the following subcategories 1 account this is where you change your username email address language options can add location details to your tweets and protect your tweets 2 password a section where you can change your password see 2 safeguarding for more on password safety 3 mobile this section allows you set up your mobile phone so you can tweet through it 4 notices in this section you can sign up to receive emails when someone starts to follow you or your child you can also sign up to receive emails when someone has sent a direct message 5 profile this is where you change your picture website address location and biography for advice on using this section safely see section two below 6 design this allows you to change the background on twitter and colours on the page 7 help clicking here will take you to the twitter support home page it is a comprehensive guide to any questions you may have about twitter 8 sign out this logs you out of your account there is also a range of other links at the base of the twitter website these offer company specific information such as job vacancies business opportunities general contact terms and privacy simply click on the links to learn more about twitter third party programmes there is third party software that changes the way people can use twitter hootsuite tweetdeck and social oomph are some of the leaders these programs use the twitter application programming interface api ­ something that allows a software program to interact with another software program ­ to allow users to do things they cannot do on twitter.


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examples are sending scheduled timed tweets accessing a number of twitter accounts at once sending an automatic message to new followers or showing the real destination of a shortened url a useful addition to help combat malware and the spread of viruses twitter works closely with developers of these products you access the program and not twitter directly it may be worth learning what they look like and what they can do so if you see any of these on your childs computer you will know what they are there are also programs that allow you extend the number of characters you use to create longer conversations an example is here a link is posted on twitter that connects followers to the twitlonger page so they can read the full message see 2 safeguarding for more mobile phones you can also use a mobile phone to access the twitter service one phone number can be verified with each account to take advantage of this service click on settings and then mobile parents can still track tweets by starting their own page and following your son or daughters tweets twitter glossary tweet a message sent via twitter following these are the people whose tweets you ve selected to read their tweets appear in your feed or stream follower this is someone who is reading your tweets at reply or username a direct tweet sent to another twitter user hash tag the sign allows twitter users to group tweets by topic making it easier to search particular conversations using twitter search link including a url in your tweet retweet to repost something that s already in the twitter stream usually preceded by rt and username to give credit to the original poster.


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section 2 safeguarding the asa wants everyone to practice safe behaviour and to feel secure while using twitter as parents you have a major role to play in ensuring your children use twitter safely in this section we have outlined guidance to aid you in ensuring both you and your child uses twitter as safely as possible always use a strong password a strong password is your first line of defence against someone hijacking your account so what is a strong password well it doesnt contain your user name real name or company name and it is not a complete dictionary word password for example a strong password is at least seven characters long and contains characters from each of the following four groups upper case letters lower case letters numbers and symbols c0mmun!ty for example is a strong password never write it down on a piece of paper if you have to ensure you store it in a secure place and destroy it when it is no longer needed share passwords with anyone especially people promising to get you more twitter followers or make you money always use different passwords for all user accounts change passwords if they may have been compromised be careful about where passwords are saved on computers look out for suspicious links ensure you login through and dont enter your password through any other source unless it is through verified third party twitter programs such as hootsuite more on this in section 1 above ensure your computer and operating system is up-to-date with the most recent patches upgrades and anti-virus software.


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protecting your twitter profile we recommend that all people under 18 years of age protect their tweets however it is down to the discretion of the parents if they feel this can be done at a lower age such as 16 protecting tweets offers parents greater peace of mind as only people you or your child agree to can follow and send direct messages you can protect your or your childs profile in the account settings page see screenshot below protected account owners control who is able to follow them and keep their updates away from the public eye private accounts can always go public by un-checking the box in account settings to protect your profile 1 log in to twitter 2 click settings 3 scroll down and check the box next to protect my updates 4 save your changes.


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when you navigate to the home page after protecting your profile you ll see a notice reminding you that your profile is now protected what happens if the account is public and i decide to protect tweets if you have a public account and you protect it all updates after the time of protection will be protected your profile will only be visible to approved followers and existing followers will not be affected you don t have to approve existing followers nor do you have to follow them you can stop sending updates to these followers at any time by clicking remove on your followers page after protecting your profile people will have to request to follow you and each follow request will need approval you can allow people to follow you without following them back note that any tweets posted while your profile is private will remain private indefinitely and tweets posted while your account is public will remain public indefinitely when someone requests to follow what happens when someone who has requested to follow you visits your profile they ll see a note saying you ve requested to follow this person remove until you have taken action on the follow request or the request has been cancelled keep in mind that when you protect your profile you must approve all follow requests for people who want to receive your twitter updates exclude your information from twitter search results cannot share static page website addresses with non-followers if i let someone follow do i have to follow back no you can allow someone to follow you without following them back if you change your mind and want to revoke follow privileges visit your followers page and click the remove button protected/private profiles search please note that tweets from protected profiles will not appear in search results people will still be able to find your account using the find people search tool but only people you ve approved to follow your account will be able to see your tweets.


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location twitter is trying to geo-tag its users when you register your profile and put in location it tags you with that location and it appears on your profile we recommend not adding a location to your childs profile in order to enhance safeguarding biography your profile also has the option of adding a biography we recommend not adding any details to your childs biography in order to further enhance safeguarding we also recommend not adding a website address if your child or family has a website there is often a lot of information on personal websites avatar this is the profile picture used in the profile and viewed with your tweets rather than a real photo we recommend a generic image to help your child remain anonymous this could be a general swimming picture or a club logo for example it needs to be a maximum size of 700kb and measure 71pixels by 71 pixels background twitter allows you to change the background of your page we recommend for young people that photos are not used for this purpose either use one of the generic designs offered by twitter or upload a generic photo of something that does not offer information on your identity or location email address as mentioned previously we advise parents to use their email address to set up a childs twitter account this way you can keep a record of all direct messages sent and see who is following your child ensure you monitor emails on a regular basis advice on tweeting people love to chat young people especially so it is too easy to give away sensitive information when chatting remember even private tweets may make it into a public space so ensure your children are careful dont tweet phone numbers private addresses or any information that someone can use consider everything posted at least three times before you post it there is currently no effective means of deleting or recalling public tweets if you really must send something as a matter of urgency use the direct message function once sent delete it deleting sent direct messages also removes them from the recipients inbox but it will not remove it from a recipients 3rd party client application or mobile device if they have it linked.


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if using sms on a mobile device to tweet make sure of the context of the message if you or your child responds using text sms to a private direct message it will not be sent privately but as a public tweet dont click links in direct messages unless you were expecting them and they are from a trusted source most hacks happen when people put their twitter log-in details into a compromised or fake website if you receive a direct message from a trusted source and the link in the message looks suspect see below contact the person and ask if it is from them their account may have been hijacked and they need to know be careful of sites that look like but aren t only log-in to if you typed the link in directly or accessed through a link you know is safe such as a bookmark if a link is not a shortened link be extra careful is the most popular link shortening service and does a good job at fighting hacker links if you receive messages that are generic and could have been meant for anyone see samples below then chances are that they are nasty hah this you http wow look at this http whats your iq http if you or your child thinks an account has been hacked change the password immediately if you can t log-in you can use the password reset tool on twitter that can be found here http advise your child against using third party twitter picture services such as twitpic these allow you to attach pictures to twitter if you see a twitlonger link see section 1 for more in a tweet click and check the information in it cyber bullying as with any social network whether virtual or real bullying is something to be on the look-out for as a parent ensure you monitor your childs tweets as mentioned above using your email address ensures you get copies of direct messages and followers ensuring you can monitor both if your child would like further information on bullying and to contact someone anonymously through twitter then @bullyinguk is the twitter page for the uk charity bullying uk its website can be found here http


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further information for further information on social networking and child safeguarding please see the asa social networking good practice guidelines they can be found in the wavepower section of the clubs and members area of the asa website under associated documents simply click below if you are reading this online good sources of guidance and help the child exploitation online protection unit ceop the asa through swim line 0808 100 4001 if you are under 18 use the your chance to talk form on the child power section of the asa website http childline 0800 1111 an nspcc support service for young people there4me another support service provided by the nspcc is there 4 me using this website children can talk confidentially to nspcc advisors online about any issues or problems they may be experiencing using an application similar to instant messenger im stop it now freephone 0808 1000 900 the local police or children services ­ their number appears in the phone book the nspcc helpline 0800 800 5000 the internet watch foundation



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