Last year, a story surfaced of a teenager whose Facebook post cost her father $80,000. The father sued a Miami school for age discrimination after he lost his job. The school agreed to settle the case for $80,000 as long as details of the case were not disclosed. The daughter went to Facebook and posted that the money would pay for a European vacation.
We’ve all said something in the heat of the moment that we wish we could take back. But these days, statements posted on social media can be around a lot longer than just the heat of the moment.
If you’re a parent, make sure you talk to your children about social media, how they use it and what’s expected of them. It’s critical that your children understand how their use of social media not only has the potential to hurt others, but that it could impact your family as well.
If my kids are sued because of a social media post, are they covered by my insurance?
Generally, any coverage a parent has through their homeowners or renters insurance policy also provides coverage to other residents of the household, including teenage children. Standard homeowners and renters policies include liability protection for bodily injury or property damage, which would cover medical bills if a child injured a friend in a pick-up basketball game.
But what if a child were to post rumors about other teens online? A standard homeowners or renters policy would not cover these instances. In order to have liability protection for this kind of claim, homeowners and renters policies must have a personal injury endorsement added. A personal injury endorsement will pay the costs up to the limits of your policy to defend you, pay a judgment or settle a case when legal action is brought against you or your children for defamation.
Be aware of what your kids are doing online
- Familiarize yourself with the sites your kids visit and know their online activities.
- Tell your kids that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern.
- Ask for their passwords, but tell them you’ll only use them in case of emergency.
- Ask to “friend” or “follow” your kids on social media sites.
- Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, are being cyber bullied. Explain that you will not take away their computers or cell phones if they confide in you about a problem they are having.