Tips for Introducing Kids to Social Media

So, your kid is suddenly interested in having a Facebook or Instagram account. While your first instinct might be to shield your kid from social media, the truth is that many kids are using popular apps with their friends. Establishing an open atmosphere at home means that your kid will be more likely to come to you with their questions. As a result, you’ll be better equipped to monitor their social media use when you know about their profiles. You can even turn your kid’s first few times on social media into a teachable moment by using these tips to keep them safe as they socialize online.

Educate Yourself About the Latest Social Media Apps

Many parents are only familiar with a few of the most popular social media apps, such as Facebook and Nextdoor. However, there are many new ones that kids are often drawn to. Tik Tock, Yolo, Snapchat, and Discord are just a few of the places where kids are sharing information online. Exploring how each of these apps works and who they attract helps you narrow down which ones to initially allow your child to access.

Teach Them How to Report Offensive Content Online

It is a sad fact, but most kids will be exposed to potentially offensive content on social media. While you can’t control what other people post, you can teach them how to report Nextdoor racial profiling and Facebook bullying. Showing them how to get these types of posts removed is empowering and lets your kid know that they don’t have to tolerate hateful content. This is also an excellent time to talk about what online bullying looks like and when to let you know if someone is making fun of them on social media.

Show Them How to Identify Misinformation

Fake news and false facts are abundantly circulating online. As with bullying and racism, you’ll want to make sure your kid feels safe coming to you when they are unsure of whether or not something is true. You can also share some easy ways to spot potential misinformation online, such as checking to see if it matches up to reputable sources such as a known news outlet. Showing your kid how some fake news uses memes with eye-catching images and headlines in all caps can also make it easier for them to know when something is meant to arouse their emotions.

Set Limits On Social Media Use

If you wouldn’t let your kid leave the house without knowing where they are going and when they’ll be back, then you will also want to treat social media the same way. Start by giving your kid permission to use one or two apps that you can closely monitor. You may also want to limit how much time they spend on social media. It’s much easier to do so by getting them a mobile device with built-in parental controls. Whether you give them 15 minutes a day or hours is up to you, but having a limit helps you encourage your kid to enjoy face-to-face interactions with their friends.

Demonstrate How to Use Privacy Settings

One reassuring thing about social media is that you do have ways to control who interacts with your kid on a platform. Show your kid how they can choose who sees their posts and can leave comments. You may also be able to restrict who your kid adds to their friends list to people who fall within a specific age range or meets your other standards for approval.

Once you’ve covered the basics, make sure to stay involved. Social media platforms are constantly evolving, and you may find that it is necessary to update your kid’s privacy settings or suggest that they avoid certain apps. Your kid might also be able to use new platforms as they gain maturity and demonstrate responsibility online. With a bit of effort and a lot of guidance, you can use this as an opportunity to strengthen your bond with your kid while helping them navigate through an important stage of their life.