Social Media and Kids

Every time I think about my daughter hitting teendom, my face does this:

mayaface

Image from theglow.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

 

It gets worse when I think about how social media will be a major part of her teenage years. And while I don’t believe in banning kids from social media land altogether, I do think (as do most parents) there needs to be limits.

And it’s not only Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter that we need to be aware of.

There is a boatload of apps that many parents (including myself until recently) don’t know about. I know a lot of moms and dads will get their hackles up over the suggestion that they don’t know what their kids are doing online. But let’s face it, kids can be naïve, sneaky, and risk-taking – a perfect storm for terrible social media choices.

I am not a helicopter parent. I think the idea of “stranger danger” is completely blown out of proportion. And I don’t coddle my child. But I really think social media has the potential to be really harmful if parents and kids don’t understand it or know how to use it responsibly.

Here are just a few of the apps that give me the shudders. None of them are directly aimed at the under-aged, but because it’s impossible to verify ages when registering, kids can easily use them.

Tinder

If you’re a grown-up, go for it. If you’re still in grade school, nope. This app describes itself as a new and interesting way to meet people, which really means a new way to hook up. And there is nothing to stop kids from using this app. Its anonymous nature can lead to cyber-bullying and the geo-location feature puts kids at real risk.

YouNow

A very weird website where anyone can make their webcam live so that others can watch them do mundane, everyday things and comment on it. Enough said.

YikYak

This app allows users to “yak” anonymously to the people closest around them (based on geo-location). Obviously, this can lead to some really harsh stuff that teens and young kids may not be able to handle.

Ask.fm

Used almost exclusively by kids, this app lets users ask anonymous questions about anything to other users. Again, this kind of app can open the door to harassment and cyber-bullying.

I love social media. Social networks and mobile apps are incredible ways to make connections and become a part of a community. But things can turn on a dime and kids can quickly get caught up in something ugly.

So what can parents do? I can’t give the best advice because my daughter is only two. Her social network is a gaggle of stuffed animals. They don’t say much.

But for parents of older kids, I think the best thing is to know what’s out there and insist on keeping the lines of communications open, even if it drives them up the wall.

What are your social media safety tips for kids?

6 thoughts on “Social Media and Kids

  1. As the mum of 2 under 3, I am not at this point yet but am afraid of what new apps will exist my little ones are at an age where they become interested in social media. I am already careful about what I post online in case it comes back to haunt them when they are older. I see some of the naked bum photos and rants about bad behaviour friends post and wonder how those kids will feel about their first crush or class bully finding that information online.

    • Yeah – I agree. I don’t post anything that will embarrass my daughter down the road. But I’m guilty of posting cute, smiley picks of the little lass. 🙂

  2. I think the best thing you can do is explain the dangers of social media, apps and such. I think opening a line of communication with your child and letting them come to you, about anything from getting 50 likes on a post to some odd person adding them on Facebook. I think the communication is key as they will come to you and ask what they should do. It is harder now then in the past, as the newer generations are more techie and advanced it is up to us to put the information about the dangers in front of them and always asking what is going on, on their social media sites. Communicating is key.

    • Yup. A friend of mine has three kids, all of whom talk with her regularly about what is going on with their social media networks. They may be holding some things back, sure. But they tell her the really important stuff — one of which was a little scary. So glad her son felt comfortable enough to tell her what happened. It’s so important to let your kids know that it’s okay to talk to them. About anything. Even if they’re totally annoyed by you telling them that over and over, bug them anyway!

  3. I am petrified of what my children are going to be up to on Social Media in a few years. My oldest is 6 years old. We have had the “stranger” danger talks in real life and now we are explaining it about the internet as well. He uses the computer for playing video games, but always in the same room as us for game time. He has also started playing “Little Big Planet” and I am glad that he can’t read a lot yet. I thought this was a kid’s game, but he sometimes gets inappropriate chat in the game. Not looking forward to the pre-teen and teen years when it comes to internet access!

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