If you are the parent of a tween or teen, chances are your child is using some form of social media. Everywhere we look we see kids on phones and tablets: in restaurants, on public transportation, and even in school. No matter how much you limit your child’s screen time, they know what their friends are doing. It’s only natural they want to be included, and electronic devices aren’t going anywhere. It’s important to establish ground rules for usage, and it’s equally important to keep an eye on their accounts.
Kids as young as eight are setting up social media accounts—which seems a little young. Each social media platform differs with regards to age restrictions, and you can use these restrictions to help you set appropriate boundaries. If your child is under thirteen, they are not allowed to have a Facebook account. Enforce these age restrictions, and make sure your child is honest about their age when setting up social media profiles.
Unfortunately, the fact your kid’s age is attached to their social media account makes them vulnerable to online predators. It’s crucial you control your child’s privacy settings on social media to protect them from people who use the internet to connect with young children. Teach your child how to effectively use privacy settings and to block or ignore friend requests from anyone they do not know in person. If they’re unsure, even a little, about whether they know someone, encourage your child to ask for your permission before friending anyone. They need to understand the person behind the profile picture is not always who they seem to be.
You also need to monitor their social media activity at all times. Cyberbullying is an increasing concern, and you should know if your child is being bullied or being the bully.
Online social activity makes it easy for kids to hide feelings, relationships, and the information they give out. As a parent you must be vigilant about monitoring your child’s social media accounts. There is no amount of involvement in your child’s internet use that is “too much.”