I’m on a mission to help people protect themselves and their families online, and I love discovering others with the same mission. Smart Social has a membership program with many detailed Internet safety tutorials, aimed at parents of tweens and teens. I’d like to tell you more about it, so that you can decide if a Smart Social membership is right for you.
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Smart Social (SmartSocial.com) has a VIP Membership program with Internet safety video tutorials and guides. Their mission: “We keep students safe on social media so they can Shine Online™.” They say their “courses are like a digital driver’s ed for student online safety.”
Many social media safety experts focus on the negatives of social media, teaching kids not to use it, and teaching parents to prohibit their kids from using it. Instead of taking that approach, Smart Social motivates kids to make better choices online, so they have a good digital reputation to be seen by future college admissions officers and employers. And they help parents assist their kids with this goal.
The content covers a range of topics, including social media safety, screen time, digital reputation, parental controls, online positivity, online productivity, and cyberbullying.
The content is primarily for kids ages 10-18, but some is for kids as young as 7 or 8 (third grade).
What does it mean that this is a membership? It means you pay a membership fee to have access to members-only content.
The founder of Smart Social, Josh Ochs, is the author of the book Light, Bright and Polite, and he speaks to students across the US, teaching them how to establish a good digital reputation.
Video Tour of Smart Social VIP Membership
The Smart Social VIP Membership includes 23 courses (at the moment). Each course includes one or more videos, and some courses also include audio, text, PDFs, and quizzes. Some courses are for students, and others are for parents, customized to the different needs and interests.
A few of the topics covered:
- iPhone parental controls
- Writing a smartphone and social media agreement
- Negative effects of social media and screen time on students
- Smart Social Summit (41 talks on a variety of topics, by many experts)
- How a child looks in Google search results
- Bullying prevention
All the features listed below are included in the annual plan. All of them except Live Group Workshops and Monthly Q&A with SmartSocial are included in the monthly plan. I’ll tell you about pricing later.
- Safety Workshops For Parents: dangers of social media and apps
- Mental Health Tips For Students: maintaining positive online relationships
- Digital Footprint Workshops For Students: how to monitor your digital reputation
- Portfolio Workshops For Students: how to build an online portfolio to improve your digital reputation
- Shine Online Workshops For Students: how to establish your digital reputation
- Live Group Workshops: quarterly live video calls that teach how to improve your digital reputation
- Monthly Q&A with SmartSocial: ability to ask questions each month in the parent’s forum, and see answers to questions from other parents
Pros and Cons
The resources are frequently updated, to keep up on the changing popularity of platforms, and their changing features.
Smart Social does their research, providing many details about the platforms, how they’re being used, their dangers, and the precautions your kids should take.
The videos are engaging, and include people speaking and screencasts. There’s variety to the speakers, including digital parenting experts, law enforcement officers, and kids.
In addition to giving tips specific to platforms, Smart Social gives general safety and reputation management advice that’s applicable even to platforms that aren’t covered.
The content isn’t simply dry and informational; it includes actual stories that illustrate real-world positive and negative consequences. These lend credibility (valuable for skeptical kids), and make the content more engaging.
Although there’s a lot to like about Smart Social, there are some downsides.
I admit this is minor, but some phrases, such as “shine online” and “light, bright, and polite” are said so frequently that the repetition becomes annoying, especially if you consume several resources in a short period of time.
The Smart Social Community forum has posts going back to November 2019, but there’s almost no engagement by members. Almost all the posts are by Smart Social, with only a couple from members. Only a few of the posts have comments, and there are only a handful of comments in total. Forums have significantly decreased in popularity in recent years, as social media groups, such as Facebook groups, have increased in popularity. Smart Social does have a members-only Facebook group, but I don’t know how active it is.
The pricing is relatively high, especially if you only use a few of the resources, or stop using the resources before your membership expires (the way many people treat their gym membership). But if you take advantage of many of the resources, and stay engaged throughout your membership, it becomes more worth the price.
Smart Social Price
The VIP Membership is available on a monthly or annual basis:
- $97.00/year (save 19%)
If you’re not sure if Smart Social’s VIP Membership is right for you, you’ll be happy to know that you can cancel any time; there’s no long-term commitment. Also, there’s a 1-month trial. So, if you use it for up to 30 days and decide it’s not for you, you can cancel and not be out any money.
Who It’s Best For
Based on its content, Smart Social’s VIP Membership is best for:
- Parents protecting kids online
- Kids (especially ages 10-18) protecting themselves online
- People who want a one-stop shop for social media safety advice, rather than hunting for it from several sources
- People who like clear directions on what to do; content from other sources may talk about social media dangers, or protection methods, but leave you to figure out how to take action
- People who are interested in protecting themselves and/or their kids online; others won’t be motivated to act on the content
If you wouldn’t dream of paying for content online, then know that you can find similar content spread across the Web, but you’ll need to do the work of finding it and creating an action plan from it.
What You Should Do
- Think about what help you need with increasing the social media safety of your kids. What are you struggling with? What questions do you have?
- Review what’s included in the Smart Social VIP Membership, described above, and decide if membership is right for you.
- If a Smart Social VIP Membership looks good to you, sign up here.
- Once you’re a member, start learning and putting what you learn into practice! And get your kids to do the same.