TEEN SAFETY GUIDELINES
SmackSocial is designed to help you get a real social life and it's committed to keeping you safe in the process.
We have built features into the app that help protect you from unhealthy social comparisons, online predators, and wasting time - things most social media platforms struggle with.
But even the best design and strongest filters can't completely inoculate you against all potential safety threats. These filters aren't nearly as powerful as YOU.
By combining our safety features with your commitment to learning and following healthy digital habits, you will have a more positive and safe experience on Smack and a more substantial social life in the real world.
To help you stay safe, Smack asks its users, especially its teenage users, to remember to D.R.I.F.T.:
Don't interact with strangers online
Interacting with people you don't know is a great skill to develop. However, there is a time and a place for everything and that place is not on social media.
It's an unfortunate reality that predators and bad actors are using the Internet more and more to find their victims. In 2020 reports of online enticement went up 97% ¹.
But just because there are bad people online doesn't mean we should stay away from the internet entirely. What it does mean is we need to be smarter about what we do when we are online.
There are a number of factors that make some kids more at risk then others, the greatest being talking with people you don't know online ².
Don't fall into the trap of thinking your situation is unique or innocent. Predators are tricky and work hard at getting past your defenses, gaining your trust, and then scamming or exploiting their victims.
Smack makes it really tough to add people you don't know. We designed Smack this way because the app is about connecting with your friends, not collecting followers you don't know.
No design can be 100% foolproof though. It's ultimately up to you to stay safe. Make the decision now to refuse to interact with strangers online and to focus instead on strengthening relationships with people you know.
If someone makes you uncomfortable or a stranger tries connecting with you, block them! Don't be worried about making things awkward, Smack won't notify them about the block, it just stops sending you the person's attempts to contact you.
Report inappropriate content immediately
If you have spent any time online, you've likely seen inappropriate, offensive, dangerous, unkind, and/or exploitative content.
In this sense, the online world is like the ocean - it's full of junk that people have thrown into it.
Ultimately, our society needs to find ways to stop inappropriate content from being posted. This will likely require a mix of increased personal integrity, a stronger sense of collective community, and regulations from governments and relevant organizations.
While our world works on preventing bad content from getting posted though, you can do exactly what environmentally conscious people do at the beach - pick up the trash.
Anytime you see bullying or anything vulgar, offensive, or dangerous - report it! Your willingness to report inappropriate content can help us keep trash out of our app!
Implement a personal media plan
Great sports teams create game plans. Effective companies build PR and marketing plans. Every good action movie contains scenes of intensive planning. Why? Because goals without plans are just wishes.
Most people go with the flow and let life happen to them. Social media is a poster child for this. People mindlessly consume it - hours go by staring at a screen as time and opportunities pass by.
How can you prevent this? SmackSocial can help because unlike social media, we're a social coordination platform. Still, like any app, it should be used intentionally. To really get in the driver's seat of your technology usage, you need to create a personal digital media plan.
A personal digital media plan is simple. Boiled down to its essence, it's an outline of what role you want digital technologies to play in your life.
This media plan answers questions like when, where, and how you will use digital and social media. You set boundaries for yourself and clearly articulate the role and purpose technology will play in your life.
Check out this link from the American Academy of Pediatrics for great resources on creating a media plan.
Personal media plans might seem restrictive at first glance, but in reality they offer you more freedom in your life because they ensure you're consciously calling the shots instead of letting your phone and the internet decide what you do.
Follow the latest advice from digital safety experts
The digital landscape is constantly changing at an ever increasing pace. While there are certain guidelines - the ones in this resource guide, for instance - that are almost universally true and will generally keep you safe and in control of your digital life, it is important to stay up to date on the latest suggestions from experts.
Online predators are like bacteria, constantly finding ways around current attempts to stop them. Digital media designers and marketers likewise are constantly innovating to convince you to spend more and more time on their apps or sites.
Following organizations like the International Society for Technology in Education and the National Society for Missing and Exploited Children can provide you with up to date information and suggestions to keep you safe and in control of your digital life.
But educating yourself shouldn't be the end of your efforts. Share what you're learning and implementing with others.
Most people don't even know, much less implement, the guidelines outlined in this resource. Get the message out by teaching your friends, having conversations about online safety, and calling out unsafe practices as such. Don't D.R.I.F.T. alone; share what you know!
Talk to your parents or other trusted adult regularly about your online presence
Don't overlook the final part of D.R.I.F.T. It can be hard to open up to parents or other adults. You may feel they don't understand what it's like to grow up in a tech-saturated world or that they will judge or punish you if you talk too freely.
For these reasons, many adolescents only share their digital life and concerns with their friends. There is one problem with that though: friends are great at supporting you but generally speaking they don't have the life experience to help you out when you find yourself in uncomfortable or unsafe situations.
One of the best ways (if not the best) to stay safe and empowered online is to have a trusted adult in your corner. They can spot dangers and sketchy intentions that you might miss. They can offer advice if you get yourself into a tricky situation. And they can stand up for you when you need an advocate.
If you aren't in the habit of sharing things with your parents, talk to them about your desire to have open and honest two way communication. Most parents will appreciate the opportunity to connect. Share your concerns and fears about talking with them or keeping them in the loop. Be vulnerable–it will have a positive impact on your digital life and in your relationships with them.
If you don't feel you can talk to your parents, find another adult you trust to regularly talk to.
Remember to D.R.I.F.T.
Your life is so valuable and you have incredible potential. Don't spend it staring at a screen. With the principles of D.R.I.F.T. in mind - enjoy connecting with friends, making memories, and building connections. Welcome to SmackSocial!
Online predators: Myth versus reality. New England Journal of Public Policy, 25(1), https://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1646&=&context=nejpp&=&sei-redir=1&referer=https%253A%252F%252Fscholar.google.com%252Fscholar%253Fhl%253Den%2526as_sdt%253D0%25252C45%2526q%253Dtypes%252Bof%252Bonline%252Bpredators%2526btnG%253D#search=%22types%20online%20predators%22.