The Right Age Kids Should be for Instagram, Facebook, and Other Social Media Platforms

As the year comes to an end, and your kids get older, some of you may have kids who are beginning to ask for your permission to get on social media. So, this calls for careful decision making in the right balance. 

How old your kid should be before he or she starts using social media with your permission is really up to you. However, most social media websites and apps require that kids be 13 to sign up. Despite what many people think, the reason isn’t to limit kids’ exposure to inappropriate content but because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prevents companies from collecting certain information from kids under age 13. Rather than create an environment that protects kids from data tracking, Facebook and some other websites/apps choose to restrict access to those under 13.

Besides this, 13 is generally the age when kids start developing a broader understanding of the world around them which includes the possibility of learning proper decision making. Along with that, they are also developing a better sense of what’s appropriate to share online with your help. As young teens, kids also are developing a desire to control more of their activities as well as the maturity to handle that control.

If your kid is expressing interest in joining a social network, discuss the pros and cons. Do your own research so you fully understand the implications of joining a particular network. If you want your kid to wait to sign up, consider pointing him or her toward more age-appropriate sites such as:

Yoursphere – a social network that authentically represents the voice, interests, talents and aspirations of young people, and provides a positive alternative to social networks that were created for adults.

Kuddle is also a quality Instagram substitute. It is a new photo-sharing social media app geared towards children and adolescent teens. It aims to create a safer digital environment where they can learn about and explore the ever expanding world of social media.

You could possibly rally your kids’ friends’ parents to restrict their kids from Facebook, so you won’t get that “but everyone is on it!” argument. Always put up the argument about the age limit and why it is totally inappropriate to lie about their ages only to have a presence on social media. Explain in detail why it is not advisable. Tell that a good parent should stay with the rules as often demanded from kids.

If your kid does end up joining a social network — whether they’re 10 or 16 — here are some ground rules that work for many parents:

Use privacy settings

Privacy settings aren’t foolproof, but they can be helpful. Take the time to learn how privacy settings work on your kids’ favorite sites and apps, and teach your kids how to control the information they make public or private. Encourage them to check privacy settings regularly, since sites’ policies often change.

Tell your kids to think before they post
Remind them that everything can be seen by a vast, invisible audience (otherwise known as friends-of-friends-of-friends), and, once something’s online, it’s hard to take back.

Be a friend and follower

Each family will have different rules, but, especially for younger kids, it’s a good idea for parents to have access to their kids’ pages, at least at first, to be sure that what’s being posted is appropriate. Parents can help keep their children from doing something they’ll regret later.

Keep private information private

Don’t share your home address or other sensitive information online.

Be respectful of others

Kids may use social media to act out because they feel anonymous and that their actions are consequence-free. Make sure they understand that the Internet is a giant community that works best when everyone respects each other.

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