Children mimic what they see adults doing. If you look at the adults in society, you’ll notice a majority on their phones, not necessarily making a call but scanning social media for hours at a time.
It has become a significant part of everyday lifestyle for everyone, and unfortunately, that includes the kids.
Is it a healthy habit for kids to follow? Most importantly, is it safe? What age is too young for parents to allow children to begin their social media exploration?
Do they know how to discuss the topic so kids understand safety, maintaining limits, and what they see should be taken lightly? Let’s read.
Dangers of social media for children
The requirement for a majority of social apps is that users be no less than 13 years of age to participate on their sites. But parents in varied polls share that children as young as seven join in the activities.
Suppose kids display an interest in gaining access to these apps or are already part. In that case, it’s vital to sit them down to lay out the boundaries you have for using these platforms and let them know that the things they’ll see are not an accurate indication of what’s happening in real life.
Unfortunately, these apps allow users to show images of what they want others to see. And then sadly, viewers, especially kids, compare themselves to these posts.
After that, parents will find it difficult to monitor their kids’ participation. But they need to make themself aware of the dangers out there affecting children, including
- Online predators
- Viral trends
- Oversharing information
- Marketing scams
Children are not capable of working through what could prove to be a harmful circumstance and determining why it wouldn’t be a wise decision. That’s because they don’t possess that functionality within their brains at such young ages. Consequently, that creates unsafe situations often that parents are unaware of such as online scams, dark web details leaks, and more.
Is there an appropriate age for social media?
The suggestion is that parents should start acting in a leadership role before a child is old enough to carry a phone or tablet for learning purposes. The idea is to teach them how these electronics are to be used properly.
When sitting down to dinner, keep the phone in another room. So you can avoid checking messages and instead engage with the people at the table face-to-face.
That encourages personal interactions, lacking among young people. In fact, young kids and teenagers pay attention to what adults do, noticing every detail. It’s their learning method.
The age Facebook and most other social apps allow a user to join is 13 years of age. A parent can override that since 13-year-olds can vary significantly in maturity.
Some children can be a very young 13, not able to handle some of the sights they might come across on the platforms. While other 13-year-olds are above their years, and capable of handling the content with parent interaction.
Why do parents hate Snapchat and TikTok?
More students are spending their time online at home with apps likeTikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, or games including Fortnight, and many like these. The school system is of the mindset that these are not appropriate for kids in the primary grades, and parents are not happy with these platforms for kids at all.
In the grand scheme, the decision rests with each parent on what a child engages with. Still, ultimately the behavior that children learn while interacting on social media will affect the kids that surround them daily.
Everyone appreciates each parent monitoring their child’s activities at home. Now, let’s look at each of these platforms individually.
A lot of the Snapchat features would be appealing but more so in the adult capacity. There are some positive and fun elements for teens. However, there are dangers associated with the app since it has the potential for inappropriate content.
While users need to be no less than 13 years of age, much of the available content under the label “Discover” does cater to a much older audience.
A highlight for users is that messages will disappear after a period of time lapses. But, after viewing an individual Snap, it immediately disappears after a 24-hour timeframe.
That makes monitoring by parents a challenge, with users feeling an incredible sense of freedom. Also, visitors to the site have the potential to post harmful or adult posts with virtually no repercussions, and this feature gets horribly abused.
The only recourse is to take a screenshot to garner proof of the incident.
There is a slew of features that not only allow access to objectionable material but expose kids to safety and privacy infringements. “Snap Map” shows visitors’ locations when using the platform.
There is a way to shut it off, but when posting to a section labeled as “Our Story,” the location automatically goes to the map – scary.
The platform is a video-sharing app where users can develop videos, share these and then react on a public feed as they play over a soundtrack.
These each last roughly 15 seconds but the feed scrolls on. Features allow filtering and different effects that mean to enhance the picture on the video. There’s also the capacity to video with friends privately. As a result, the public can view the video even without a TikTok account.
You can block or report inappropriate content or messages on the news feed. But parents have little other control over the potential for violent or sexual content in the public feed.
The suggestion is cyberbullying is a significant issue with the platform using the public feed, as are other forms of abuse in these comment sections. While these might be fun and have some positive features for the adult community, a child at the age of 13, no matter the maturity level, is certainly not prepared for an adult platform.
There are obviously adults intermingling with kids on these sites in harmful, potentially dangerous ways. As an example of these dangers, many children fall for adult apps like OnlyFans etc…
How can parents teach kids social media safety?
You’ll find social apps offer a few positive benefits for children. That includes teaching communication skills with others in varied areas, maneuvering different relationships, and helping to learn how to handle circumstances when someone is unkind.
But as a rule, it isn’t ideal, nor is it an authentic solution that children need exposure to. Parents need to take a proactive role when deciding to allow kids to join social sites by speaking with them about expectations concerning their usage as a parent and for them as user.
Some steps to take when having the conversation about maneuvering this virtual world as a parent/child team include:
Ensure the child is prepared for social media
Despite being in the age range, that doesn’t mean a kid is mature enough for one of these platforms. A parent can gauge a child’s maturity level and witness how they engage with other children and adults.
For a parent that isn’t sure, you can arrange a temporary “test run.” Clear boundaries need to be outlined with open communication between you and your child. So they know they can come to you in any situation. So, if they don’t follow the rules, there will be consequences.
Ask your child why they’re in such a hurry to join these accounts, what they anticipate or hope to get from the platforms, and what they believe social media is.
Next, check with them on what they intend to do on the site. Don’t stop talking even after the kids join. Pay attention to the sites they’re on. If there’s a trend on Tik Tok or Snapchat, ask them what they think of it to get their view, and so they know you’re paying attention.
Make sure you’re familiar with the apps and what your child is consuming on these.
Also, you can teach your child the dangers of clicking on links from Facebook and other social media sites. Let them know that others can watch them from their phone cameras and even record videos of them when using any site.
Screen time should be limited
The recommendations from “The American Academy of Pediatrics” are that children should have no more than two hours each day but only if kids can fit that in after having plenty of physical activity, personal interactions with family and friends, and working on school activities.
Make sure you’re the best role model you know how to be with healthy and safe social app behavior. Kids don’t recognize dangers when they see parents participating in habits that are not following the ideal guidelines.
As parents in a community, gather together to see what each other is doing to ensure the children’s safety. It’s a great way to get advice, especially if you’re struggling in this area with your child.
Social media is a serious undertaking for a parent in determining when their child is ready to participate. It’s also quite a load for a young person to understand how to handle the platforms healthily and safely for their optimum protection.
The priority is making kids understand the concept of privacy and not posting anything on these platforms they wouldn’t be comfortable showing to every person in the world, including grandad.
Further, it’s wise to dissuade them from paying attention to anything posted or in writing they wouldn’t show to him. Who doesn’t respect a grandfather?