deluge social media image
13 March 2021 (updated)

Social Media and Kids: How to Set the Right Boundaries

Millions of Americans use daily social media. But it can also be risky – especially for kids. Here are some ways to teach your kids dealing with social media.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act

Did you know that there's an age minimum for using social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook? No? Don’t worry most people don’t. But the minimum age for using social media is 13 years old.

That’s due to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. This act forbids companies from accessing data from people below this age. But even with this act, many younger children still try to get access to these platforms.

They might use their parents' phone numbers or email IDs. Others might create their own email IDs by falsifying their age. In order to avoid such tricks, there are some points you should be aware of so you can trust your child to safely surf the internet.

How to Set the Right Social Media Boundaries for Your Kids

Given its central role in our culture today, it's important to teach our kids how to deal with social media. Explain to them what social media is and how it can be used in a child-friendly manner, but that there are restrictions in place for their protection. They can wait until they're legally old enough to get their own Instagram or Facebook account!

It is also important to make your kids aware of the risks due to the anonymity of everyone on the internet. You don't want to scare them away, but make sure they understand that using social media is a privilege, and requires responsibility.

Make Your Child Aware of the Internet Dangers

Talk with your child about appropriate and inappropriate online behavior. Let them know that they are vulnerable to online predators, even if they're unaware. People assume false online identities, so be careful of virtual strangers!

Talk to them about responsibly uploading photos of themselves and friends!  The internet will never forget anything: you can easily share uploaded images with strangers. Therefore, you should also teach them about privacy aspects and settings.

Instead of banning your kids from all social activities online, teach them how to be smart about their social engagements. They can learn to share their uploads only with friends or family members or at least with people that they know. FamilyApp is a great place to do that. You can also educate them on the dangers of cyberbullying or identity theft. Explain to them that they aren’t allowed to upload images from other people without their consent. And educate them not to be wise about their social media interactions.

Filtering Social Media Content

As adults, we have difficulty dealing with the flood of internet information. The messages keep coming! But if we never get a break, what about our children who are still exploring the world and can't filter the information the way we do?

We always want to be up-to-date on what is happening in the world, and with family and friends, but how much is too much? The overabundance of content is another one of the negative effects of social media. What happens when we are offline or have read the message, but don't have time to answer?

Adults can learn how to manage, but this situation can be especially difficult for children. How do they feel when everyone else is talking about something, but they didn't get the message, too? It can also be hard for children who aren't on social media like all of their friends are.

On the one hand, you want your child to be part of the conversation. On the other hand, you need to protect them! So what do you do?

Private social media channels, like those in the FamilyApp, are ideal for discussing a topic together, making appointments, planning together, or simply chatting and sending pictures and videos. Since FamilyApp is completely encrypted, the information you share here stays secure. Even when your child wants to interact with other families and third parties, none of the information they share can be used against them by advertisers or potential predators.

Seeking Help to Deal With Social Media and Kids

Many parents may be overwhelmed by teaching kids how to deal with social media or do not know enough about this topic. But don’t worry. There are many institutions around the US and probably also next to you that can deliver some support. For example, Common Sense Media is a leading independent nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. It offers widespread information about this topic.

Many schools in the US have special computer lessons where they teach the right usage of social media. If you still have any concerns it might be a good idea to talk at the next parents’ evening with other parents and teachers about social media. You will recognize that other parents may face the same challenges. Maybe you can teach your children together.

Social Media and Trust

Open communication and trust are crucial when it comes to children and social media.  Your kids need to be able to speak frankly with you about their experiences on social media. Some parents want to trust their children implicitly when it comes to all things online. Others are more cautious, and risk being too controlling for every conversation.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to this issue, even within a family. Some children might be more vulnerable to cyberbullying or require more Internet supervision than others. Others might have no problems. So you might have to alter your Internet approach from one child to another, and that's okay!

We sadly don't have a magic button that will provide parents with a perfect solution. But as long as you stay engaged and involved with your child's social media activity, even if it's just asking good questions, you'll help keep your child find the right social media approach.



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