IS IT TIME TO INTRODUCE YOUR KIDS TO SOCIAL MEDIA?

 

 

Should you, or shouldn’t you? We know lots of parents come to this conundrum at some point - some earlier than others. In fact, research shows many kids are using social media before parents have spoken to them about how to use it responsibly, with 48% exposed to it by age seven*.

Whether you think now’s the time or not – and it really is up to you to decide when that is – here’s some advice for a safer start when you do let them venture into the world of likes and shares.

The pros – social media can help kids to:

Stay connected with friends and family

Volunteer or get involved with a campaign, nonprofit or charity

Enhance their creativity by sharing ideas, music and art

Meet and interact with others who share similar interests

Communicate with educators and fellow students

The cons:

Cyberbullying

Oversharing

Online predators

Inappropriate content

Peer pressure and low self-esteem

When is the right age to introduce them to social media?

Social platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook require users to be 13+ (16 for WhatsApp), but there’s no way for these sites and apps to verify age. You can manage accessibility with parental controls, but if your kids are interested in social media at an earlier age, it’s best to be open and discuss their motivations and whether it’s really the right time for them.

Explore safety features first

Most social media sites have their own safety features and reporting procedures. If your child is setting up a new social media account, help them explore these settings and tools. It’s important to select the right privacy and security options, and to check how to block or report certain users if something goes wrong online.

Be aware that others can see your location

Location services on apps can be a fun and inventive way of showing friends and family where you are. But if you don’t turn off settings on certain apps, others can track their whereabouts in real time. It’s important to help them manage their location settings so they are only sharing their location when they want to. For example, Snapchat users can switch to ‘Ghost Mode’ to avoid being tracked.

Don't "friend" strangers

A simple and safe rule of thumb. Talk to them about only accepting friend requests and interacting from people they know and trust. Encourage them to explore settings to limit who can see their posts. It’s better that only people they know and get on with can view, like or comment on their posts and activity.

Think twice before clicking

Tell your child to always be wary of opening links that they are sent in private messages. Even if it appears to be a message from a friend, their friend’s account may have been hacked and the link could be a scam or lead them to an inappropriate site. If in doubt, check the link URL – if you don’t recognise the website or it looks suspicious, avoid clicking on it.

WWGS: What would grandma say

Yes, seriously. Encourage your child to follow the ‘Granny Rule’: if you wouldn’t be happy with your granny seeing it, don’t post it! It’ll get your child thinking before sharing something they may regret – especially as it could be online forever.

Tell them to be nice!

Make it clear that you expect your kids to treat others with respect, and to never post hurtful or embarrassing messages. And ask them to always tell you about any harassing or bullying messages that others post.

 


*Research by YouGov Plc.  Total sample of 4189 of which 352 were parents of children aged 6 to 10.

This article was originally written in partnership with Parent Zone