Your kids may have asked you about creating her social media account and you just don't know what to answer. Social media is part of everybody's lives nowadays and no wonder why our kids want to have their own. Let us first discuss, what social media is.
Social media are websites, platforms, or apps that allow users to share their content and socialize with other users. It facilitates sharing of ideas, information, experiences, and lets someone express how they feel, virtually. It may sound good but having a social media account has its own pros and cons. Kids have to understand how to responsibly use it. But at what age is it appropriate to have a social media account?
When is social media appropriate?
A Survey from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) in 2018 shows that 90% of 13- 17 years old have been using social media. Two-thirds of them have their own devices. And on average, most teens are online mostly 9 hours a day, homework time not included.
Different types of content and people exist in social media, so parents have to be cautious. You have to consider your child's maturity if they can understand the limitations in using social media. Most people will say, parents, should only allow their teens until they reach the age of 15. But most kids are using their laptops, devices for school research, etc., and they have access to different sites. You do not want your kids to secretly create an account and interact with strangers online, right? The appropriate age is probably 13, but your child should understand the dos and don'ts of having a social media account. Parent supervision is still advised. Respect their privacy, earn their trust, but in exchange, they must be transparent.
1. Post with Kindness
We should always remind our kids to be nice whenever they post something or interact with others online. Let your kids know that you expect them to treat others with kindness and respect. Avoid posting things that are offensive, hurtful, and embarrassing. Let your kids know that people will have different opinions online. It's okay not to agree with them but, they have to remember to "think before you click!" and consider everyone's point of view. Advise them to be careful about what to share or post. Although there is an option to delete or edit a post, people can do screenshots that may use it against them. Let them know that bullying and gossiping are a no-no in social media. Also, tell your teens to let you know if someone is bullying them online.
2. Teach them to be wise
Kids are still susceptible to false information. Set their expectations that not everything they see in social media is real. Fake content, news, and profiles exist in social media, which is one of its disadvantages. Advise them not to believe everything they see online. We do not want them to be misled. Tell them to always check the source if legit before accepting and sharing it online.
3. Do not chat with strangers
As we discussed about false information, according to statista.com, 16% of Facebook accounts are fakes or duplicates. Advise your kids to question everything they see, especially when it comes to social media profiles. The person in the photo might be a different person in real life. Explain to them that the bad guys use and copy different accounts so they can trick other people. Be careful who they trust and accept from their friend requests. A simple rule should be, "Don't accept, add, or interact with strangers."
4. Protect personal information
Help your teen set up their social media accounts. Privacy settings should not be public and for friends only. Explain that having these kinds of settings will protect them from identity theft. Advise them to never give their personal information like full name, address, phone number, birthday, and password to anyone. Let them know not to tell strangers personal information about their likes or dislikes, such as tv shows, foods, restaurants or any other preferences they have.
5. Do not post location
Although it may be cool to post their current locations for their friends to see, it may not be a good idea and unnecessary. Explain to your kids that some people with ill-intent can use that information to their disadvantage. For their safety, advise them to avoid posting their current locations.
6. Think about what will Grandma say
It is fun to share memes and other funny content, but let your kids know that teachers, future bosses, and even grandma can see what they post online. Make sure to share non-offensive content and things that are appropriate to their age.
7. Set boundaries
Limit your kids' screen time. We do not want our kids to be on social media most of the time. We have to set boundaries that they should only do it in their free time, and they have to finish all their tasks first before logging in to their social media. Try to limit screen time during meals and when in the car. Place the computer or other devices in a shared room where you can see what they access. Research what videos your teens are watching or what video games they are interested in. You can bond with them by watching or surfing together online.
8. Setting a good example
You can be friends with your kids on social media, and they can see what you share or post. Your kids look up to you, so be responsible for what you post, be conscious of what you comment on, and treat others nicely. Respect your teen's privacy, do not post anything to embarrass them, such as cleaning their messy room, changing their smelly socks, etc. Also, family matters should not be posted online and should remain private.
Parents can be overprotective, and some may restrict their young teens from engaging in the social media world. However, ultimately, we cannot limit them from using it in their future as social media is part of today's culture. Our kids need guidance and advice from us to be safe and learn the responsible usage of social media.