When it comes to your social media and kids, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Today, the internet is more ubiquitous than ever before, with potentially dangerous side effects such as cyberbullying, online addiction, and inappropriate material accessible at the click of a button. Social media should be approached thoughtfully depending on each child’s maturity level, capability for appropriate judgement in potential situations, all while balancing their need for connection and socialization.
We know there are so many questions about when it's truly safe for kids to use social platforms unsupervised or without boundaries attached to them. So, this blog post will explore how parents should address this tricky subject and offers some guidelines for when—and under what conditions—young people should be allowed to get started on various platforms. Read on to find out more!
Social media and kids: When can they sign up for them?
The recommended age for children to start using social media varies from one platform to the next. Generally speaking, most platforms state that users must be at least 13 years old in order to use their services. This is because many sites collect personal information and feature a wealth of potentially inappropriate content, which can pose risks to pre-teens who are not developmentally prepared to handle it.
In some cases, parents may be able to provide parental consent for younger children (even as young as 8) to participate in limited activities such as instant messaging. However, this should only be done after careful consideration of the potential risks involved.
Nonetheless, more than the age, signing up for a social media platform depends on other factors. Here are some things you have to take into account:
1. Your kid’s maturity
Assessing a child's maturity before allowing them to use social media is important as it ensures that they are ready to handle the responsibility of being on the platform. This means they can be expected to understand and adhere to the rules and regulations, resist peer pressure, recognize inappropriate content, refrain from sharing too much personal information, and show respect for others.
If a child is not yet at the required level of maturity, this could result in issues such as cyberbullying or identity theft. It is therefore essential that parents assess their child's readiness before deciding whether they should have access to social media.
2. Their knowledge about social media dangers
Knowing about the potential dangers of social media is essential before a child signs up for any platform. This will help parents and children to understand the risks that they may be exposed to and ensure that they are taking all necessary measures to protect them from harm.
Social media can expose children to cyberbullying, inappropriate content, identity theft, and more, so it is critical for parents to be aware of these issues and clearly explain them to their kiddos, so they are conscious too.
3. Understand the rules and restrictions
Parents should set rules and restrictions on their child's use of social media and explain them thoroughly until they understand. These may include limiting the amount of time they are allowed to be online, monitoring what kind of content they are consuming, not allowing them to share personal information, blocking access to any offensive websites, and disallowing communication with strangers.
Additionally, having regular conversations about internet safety can be beneficial in educating children about the risks associated with social media.
Social media and parenting: Our Tips
If you’re getting ready to introduce your kiddo to social media, here are 8 quick tips that will help you to keep them safe and sound while surfing on the platform:
Monitor your child's online activity and set clear rules and expectations.
Educate your child on the risks of oversharing personal information online.
Ensure that your child's social media accounts are private.
Set limits on the amount of time your child can spend on social media each day.
Get to know the sites and apps that your child is using, and be familiar with their features and privacy settings.
Talk to your children about cyberbullying, trolling and other potentially harmful behavior they may encounter online
Periodically check in with them to see how they are doing with social media use, provide support where needed, and offer guidance when necessary
Whenever possible, make sure an adult is physically present whenever a child interacts with social media
When should parents stop monitoring their kid’s social media?
Once a child is old enough to understand the risks associated with social media, it is generally advisable for parents to transition from active monitoring to more passive monitoring. This does not mean that parents should stop paying attention altogether: periodic discussions about internet safety and providing guidance when necessary are still important.
However, at this point parents can trust their children to make responsible decisions on social media sites themselves, provided that they have been adequately educated about the potential dangers.
Free resources to keep your kiddos safe on social media
If you’re allowing your kid to use social media and the Internet in general, we’ve created a FREE cheat sheet with tips and tricks that will help you keep them safe! Download it today and don’t forget to contact us if you have any questions