Are your kids too young for social media?
Kids and online safety is such a scary thought. You always want to protect your child, but the internet makes it tough. It gets even tougher when you child is holding all the scary power of the internet in their hand – if they have a smartphone.
One major thing that kids want is social media. Right now, Instagram is HUGE, I can’t believe how many pictures I have seen the pre-teens in our neighborhood take just to get that one perfect picture!
I wanted to share some advice for those who may be wondering about getting their child a phone and letting them use social media apps on their phone and or computer. These are all things that I am wrestling with right now as a parent of an 11 & 10 year old.
Age & Restrictions
I have, what I like to believe, 2 very mature, smart, but sometimes naive children. Even though I believe they would most likely be fine, studies by people smarter than me say that children under 13 lack the awareness required to operate in mainstream online social media.
A number of the social media entities agree. Facebook, Instagram and other all have an age requirement of 13. As a parent of a mature 11 year old, I would consider fibbing during registration to let them have an account, however when my 11 year old is 16, she will now be seen as 18 and an adult in that social network’s eyes, and that is not good!
There are a number of age appropriate forums for those under 13. These sites are also COPPA compliant, meaning they are aware of the ages and have certain policies and restrictions in place. These sites are awesome for those who may be too young for social media in the most common formats.
Think twice, post once. Instruct your child to always be respectful, things put online are there for everyone to see and don’t fade away like a verbal insult may.
Take lots of pictures, but wait to post them, you don’t need to tell the world you are away from home right now. Instruct them to save the pictures, edit them and think of something fun to write with their post. This is best done at home, not at that exact moment.
Also, remember your child will most likely be following friends, and sometimes friends of friends. This is a great way to know more people, but also a great way to see some things that may make your child feel left out. Imagine seeing tons of pictures on Instagram of a great party and everyone having fun. Now realize that your child wasn’t invited to that party. These things happen and it is easy for your child to get upset about these things.
Let’s say your child is old enough for an account, and you help them set it up. Now you have some work to do.
- Talk to your child – have an open dialogue about expectations and follow up on these agreed upon expectations weekly. This is also a great opportunity to talk to and learn more about your child.
- Who to follow? I suggest initially limiting who your child follows to friends you have actually met. It is a great starting place and can grow from there as your child shows more responsibility with how they use their account and device.
- Learn for yourself – setup your own account, learn the restrictions and play around.
- Be a friend, be a follower – not normal parenting advice with this one! You want to follow or friend your child. This gives you the ability to follow along and make sure everything is in order and meeting your agreed upon expectations.
- Monitor your child’s account and agree on a password – let your child know that you always have the option and ability to login to or close their account.
There is a lot to worry about online. Social media is fun, but it can also be scary. So it is important to put your child in the best position to succeed when it comes to online safety.
This post is sponsored by the awesome people at Trend Micro. They believe in keeping your child safe while online. Trend Micro has also created a tremendous resource about internet safety, it is full of ideas and suggestions that all parents should check out here.
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