Whether we like it or not, social media is the new way our teens communicate with each other. Gone are the days we could simply monitor their text messages and know everything that is going on. Kids are even gravitating towards social platforms that their parents aren’t using in order to find a little privacy. No one wants their friends to see Grandma posting on that selfie from the restaurant the other day.
Once your child starts asking for access to social media, you should establish a few ground rules before allowing it to make sure they are being safe. When you enforce these rules you can prevent some major problems from occurring, but they also won’t be a cure-all. You should use these rules in conjunction with other technology rules you have set in your home.
Obey Age Restrictions
Most social media platforms do not allow children under the age of 13 to have accounts. This age mainly stems from the COPPA restrictions created in the United States. Even if there weren’t laws in place, 13 is a good year to start allowing access. Children younger than 13 have a hard time understanding that their actions online have consequences. Although 13 year-olds still aren’t mature enough to handle a lot of the situations that can occur through social media use, they are a little more equipped to handle it after they reach 13.
Of course, we are strong proponents of setting time restrictions on various apps. Boomerang is obviously a great tool to help you enforce this rule. The reason it is a great rule to set and follow is so your child doesn’t spend the entire day on their phone. Time restrictions can help them go out and do something else, interact with real live people, and helps them take a step back from comparing themselves to their peers.
One of the biggest risks with social media is the interaction your kids can have with complete strangers. Without proper privacy settings in place, these strangers could find out more about your kids than you want them to know, like what school they go to, who they hang out with, names of friends or family. If you don’t create privacy settings on your child’s account, you could just open them up to dangers they are not prepared to handle.
Sign Yourself Up
Any social media platform your kids are using, you should be using as well. If your child signs up for House Party, you sign up for House Party. This way, you will know what the features of the app are, you can see what your child is doing on the app, and you can help them when you observe something inappropriate. Being in the same social networks your children are using is so important.
As with anything your kids are doing, trust, but verify. You need to perform regular checks on them. If they know that you haven’t been checking up, they are more likely to do something you wouldn’t want them doing than they would be if they know that you will check their phone that night.
While these rules won’t keep your child completely safe at all times, they will help keep them a little bit safer.