Social Media and Your Children: So much to consider

The current generation is growing to be known as the Digital Natives of the world. For the first time a generation is growing up without knowing what it is like to live without digital technology. Along with this comes the use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and many more social networking platforms. But how young is too young for the responsibility, awareness, and safety required for social media?

social media and tweens -- what you need to know

Next week, our elementary school invited guest speakers to engage the children in discussions about personal safety and how it applies to the internet and the choices kids and adults make while on the Internet.

 

Here are some things to consider when deciding your parental guidelines for social media use.

Facebook

As of 2013, 500 million people used Facebook. To put that into perspective, that’s more people than the whole population of the U.S., and that statistic is now two years past.

Facebook is the largest social media platform. You must be 13 years of age or older to have a Facebook account — though there is no real way for Facebook to monitor this since anyone can lie about their age. If your child is interested in using Facebook, it’s important to talk with them openly about the dangers involved. This includes cyber bullying, Facebook Depression (when the actions of others on Facebook cause depression in other users), and potential predators. It’s important to convey to your child (if you trust them to use Facebook) that giving away personal information like age, address, or phone numbers online can be dangerous. It’s also important to check the privacy settings of your child’s account in order to make sure that only the people they are friends with can see their pictures. Then, it is important to monitor what pictures your child uploads.

Staying in Control

As a parent, it is your job to know what your son or daughter is engaging in. Limiting cell phone use can limit their time on social media, while keeping the computer in a central location, and protecting it with a password can ensure your child can only be on Facebook when you are present.

If your son or daughter is old enough to use a computer by themselves, it’s important to set ground rules. This can mean a limit on how much time they spend on social media, what kinds of pictures they are allowed to post, who they befriend, and what they are viewing. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have many links that can lead to websites not suitable for children. Use parental control software like Net Nanny in order to keep your child safe while exploring and learning in the digital frontier.

Be an Example

You won’t always be able to monitor what your child is doing, but you can protect them with identity theft services that monitor credit cards and financial activity. And if something does go amiss, these services will alert you immediately, and make every effort to resolve the issue quickly.

When it comes to having a life on social media, the best thing you can do is lead by example. Your children look up to you, so show them how social media can be used responsibly. Refrain from Tweeting at the stop light or checking in on Facebook every couple of minutes. If you’re constantly online your children will feel as though they should be allowed to do so also. In order to set parameters for social media and Internet, call a family meeting and make sure everyone agrees and understands the terms of use and the responsibilities that come with it.

Social Media starts at age 13… kind of

There’s no rule that says kids have to join the Social Media world at age 13, but there are rules stating that kids can’t join before 13. From Common Sense Media:

How old your kid should be before he or she starts using social media with your permission is really up to you. Most social media websites and apps require that kids be 13 to sign up. Despite what many think, this isn’t to limit kids’ exposure to inappropriate content but because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents companies from collecting certain information from kids under 13. Rather than create an environment that protects kids from data tracking, Facebook and other websites and apps choose to restrict access to those under 13. Read more at Common Sense Media.

Many children join different social media outlets before age thirteen, when their parents oversee their memberships. Other children dishonestly list their birthdate on applications for membership.

This article was co-written by Social Monsters.

mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel (jewelryverse.com) and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2015, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.

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