Social media and a child in the same sentence is something that many parents would love to avoid for the rest of their natural lives. Unfortunately, these days it is possible to never step foot out of your house and still live pretty comfortably (agoraphobics around the world are thankful for the fact!). You can order your groceries online and have them delivered, shop for clothes and everything else you need saving with coupon codes for Kohl’s, watch TV and live sports events, read books for free at online libraries, and even book services like dog walkers and plumbers without ever physically speaking to anyone.
And with the number of devices that have internet access, it is becoming a reality that parents have to face more than ever before. Social media is how everyone communicates with the world, instead of picking up the phone and asking ‘how are you?’ or arranging a lunch to catch up, you visit Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or one of the many websites to see what your friends and family are up to.
And kids want in on that power – they hate being left out of anything and the fact that most social media sites have restricted access to users of certain ages is not nearly as effective as one might think, because it’s not impossible to lie about your birthdate. Remember; when children really want something, they’ll find a way to get it – and sometimes the fact that they have to cheat to do so may not stop them even for a moment.
Now we’ve all read those warnings about posting photos of our children on our own social media feeds, or supplying too much personal information that can be used by predators with malicious intentions. Also, there are some things on social media that nobody of any age should be seeing, saying or sharing – and yet they do. I know I definitely don’t want my kids anywhere near Facebook any time in the foreseeable future but although my oldest is only 8, she is already asking me to allow her create her own social media profile (thank goodness she’s asking first because most kids wouldn’t!).
And now that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have approached the powers that be about lowering the age restriction for Facebook, the reality is that soon there will be no way to protect your kids from the dangers of social media and the harsh reality that they might be exposed to as a result. Many agree in honest opinion that no child should ever be allowed anywhere near social media. They might be aware of the possibility of dangerous predators and inappropriate online behavior but the fact is that they are just not mature enough to behave themselves and be 100% careful ALL of the time.
So what can you do? No matter how hard you kick against it and how many measures you enforce to prevent it, your child is going to be heading to the online world almost as soon as they can hit the power button on your computer. I’ve been talking to both friends and family, asking their opinions and advice about what they would do in my shoes. I’ve decided to take a leaf out of my mother’s child rearing handbook. With a little bit tweaking to suit modern times of course!
There are some very smart people out there who knew that children would soon follow their parents onto social media platforms. And, there are a number of them who are actually concerned about the safety of their children and want to do everything in their power. So, they’ve melded necessity and safety and created social media platforms for children of all ages. These platforms are moderated, they’re as secure as the creators can make them and the majority offer some form of parental control. If you expose your child to social media from a young age and teach them safety rules and proper online etiquette before they’re influenced by unsavory characters at school or even in the family, then half your battle is won. Children don’t like the word NO, however, a ‘yes’ followed by ‘ON CONDITION’ is something they can accept.
And that’s what child friendly social media platforms provide. A way to give your kids what they want, and still hang onto your peace of mind! Now there are ways to circumvent any security measure so teaching your child about communication with complete strangers and posting certain types of comments or photos is vital. Communicating online is probably going to be an important tool in your child’s future so ‘training’ them and exposing them in small degree is the best way to handle the situation. If you want to know about social media platforms for children then just use Google – you’ll find a bunch of reviews that discuss different websites and you can check them out for yourself before your son or daughter creates his or her own profile.