The benefits of social media to our kids are immense in enhancing learning, personal development and ability to be a social being. Despite these immeasurable benefits of social media to our kids, parents are worried about their safety and the potential danger involving in using social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Pinterest, etc. and other virtual and gaming site like Club Penguin, Second Life, Sims etc by our kids. This reality and tendency of exposure of kids to social media’s risks and danger like cyberbully, depression, sexting and so on, makes parents to ask the question about the right age to let our kids use social media.
According to Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, kids below the age of 13 years are not allowed to use any social media networks. Even, some social media networks raise their age restriction, for instance, WhatsApp age restriction is 16 years, YouTube is 18( 13-17 years are allowed on parent permission), and social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler, Reddit, Snapchat, etc. beg their age restriction to 13 years. Base on this yardstick, parents can allow their kids to have social media accounts as long their kids are not restricted by the law that governed cyberspace. Cyber experts also advise parents to let their kids use social media as long they have developed a certain level of cognitive capacity and ethical standard.
After allowing or letting our kids use social media, we should not sit back and relax. Our job starts from the moment we allowed them to use social media. We need to take some precautionary measures to protect them from potential dangers, and risks involve uses of social media. Immediately we allowed them to use social media, a large part of their time will be spent on social media. According to a survey by Association of American Pediatric, “20% of teenagers log in to their favorite social media site more than ten times per day.” In the same survey over 70% of teenagers log in to social media accounts at least once in a day. So we need to protect them due to their low self-regulation and a high tendency to give in to peer pressure on social media.
Kids are at peril of risks and danger like cyberbully ( read more on cyberbully at nobully.com), social media anxiety that can lead to depression, sexting ( 20% of girls and boys engage in this activity, a survey reported), exposure to inappropriate contents, etc. on social media. For these reasons, kids need our protection more than ever. How can we protect our kids from risks and dangers involving the use of social media by our kids?
Parents need to be Technology Savvy.
There is no way of protecting our kids on social media if we have no or little about social media. We need to get ourselves knowledgeable about social media.
By Monitoring kids Activities on Social Media Networks.
We need to monitor their activities on their social media accounts by checking, following and befriending them on social media. That means we need to register on the social media networks ourselves to monitor our kids’ activities. We need to check their chat logs, profiles, messages, etc. for possible misconducts.
Having a Conversation with Them About Their Social Media Life.
It is essential to have a heart-to-heart conversation with our kids about their social media life, activities on social media, experience and ask them if they are experiencing any form of cyber abuse. We need to teach and advise them about moral ethics against cyberbully, sexting, and the need to protect their privacy online.
Restrict and Set Rules About the Time they spend on Social Media.
Finally, we need to restrict the time they spend on social media to prevent social media addiction and other adverse effects resulting from overuse of social media by our kids. We also need to set a limit to numbers of social media networks our kids manage.