If you have a kid growing up in today’s tech-obsessed world, chances are they’ve already asked you for a smartphone or at least permission to use one. According to a study conducted by Influence Central, nearly 64 percent of kids have access to the Internet via their own laptops or other wireless devices. This same study reports the average age for obtaining a cell phone is just 10 years old. While this might be the national average, the question still stands, are our children ready for the responsibility that come with cell phones and access to the Internet?
Social media platforms have taken over. From Twitter and Facebook to Snapchat and Instagram, the options for interacting with others online are endless. While most apps call for its users to be 13 or older, there are loopholes around that age requirement. As parents, its helpful to stay informed about social media platforms, what they entail, and how accessible they are to our children. The best way to know if your kid is ready for social media is to talk with them about what’s available. Here are some of the most popular platforms kids and adults are using today.
Social media can be daunting, especially for young children and first-time users. There are concerns to be aware of like cyberbullying and interacting with the wrong people. If you think your kid isn’t ready to take the social media plunge, there are intermediary options available. Yoursphere is an excellent placeholder for Facebook and requires parents to give background checks before signing up their children. Once registered children ages 9-17 are permitted to create their own profile, interact with their friends, and play games. Kudos is a kid-driven platform similar to Instagram. The only difference is that it’s ad-free and monitored by a community of parents.
If you know your kid is using social media, here are some ways to make sure they’re safe while monitoring their accessibility to various applications.
• Pay attention to privacy settings. Social media platforms have their own privacy settings which can be customized for each user. This means you can control who sees your children’s content and how they choose to interact with others using the same platform. Talking with kids about privacy and teaching them how to control their content will help keep them safe while using their social media handles.
• Monitor your children’s social media usage. Consider making rules and guidelines with your children before they start using social media. This might include rules such as limiting your children’s social media usage at nighttime or restricting it if an adult isn’t present. Some parents choose to “be friends with” or connect to their children’s social media handles by creating their own. This allows parents to see how their children are using social media and the type of content they are posting online.
• Keep the channels of communication open. Continue talking with your children about the ways they choose to interact with others online. Social media can be used as a way to talk about different situations they might run into on the internet like cyberbullying and viewing inappropriate content. Social media is a great way to give your kid a feeling of independence while teaching them how to be responsible and respectful.
Every kid is different, so the right time to use social media will be different for each child. Thankfully, there are many ways to make sure your child is playing it safe on their social media platforms.
Erin Navaro, an Ohio native, is a young professional who works with older adults, supporting them in every stage of their care. Curious about the world, Erin has lived and worked in Tanzania and India, finding inspiration from the people and cultures that have hosted her along the way. To see what’s next, connect with her on LinkedIn.