It may have taken you months to agree to your primary school child’s request for a smartphone, and now, it’s “May I also get a social media account… please?”
While 13 is the minimum age for social media accounts on platforms—such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok—the rule is not strictly enforced.
Social media makes it convenient and easy to connect to family and friends, with quick access to information and research. However, social media can be addictive. You may be worried that it exposes your child to cyberbullying, grooming, and content that is not age-appropriate.
Before agreeing to a social media account, do take a step back. Consider if your child is already spending too many hours in front of a screen or device—and help your child untangle from the web. Rest assured that you are not alone, it is a dilemma other parents have grappled with.
Check that your child is ready
Before agreeing to a social media account, ask yourself these questions:
- Has junior respected family rules and shown to be responsible in other areas, such as completing homework and doing chores?
- Is your child able to regulate the time spent on screens?
- Is he or she able to decide whether something they read online is true or untrue?
- Is your child socially and emotionally mature enough to recognise and handle negative and unhelpful interactions?
Another tip is to start with using just one social media platform. Get familiar with the platform, and monitor how your child is using this platform. Talk to your child to ensure that he or she has the skills, is socialising appropriately online, and even provide guidance and support where needed.
You may also like to bone up on your own digital literacy. Look a little more closely at the popular social media platforms available, such as Instagram, YouTude, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Facebook. This can help you understand the risks and benefits of why your child uses a particular social media platform or app.
Set some ground rules
Put in place family rules for your child around social media. This can include using parental control apps and setting limits on when social media and screen time are allowed. Teach your child how to stay safe on social media . A safety rule is to not accept friends or followers who are strangers. And when it comes posting photos or videos, ask permission when posting photos of others, and avoid posting any images of home.
Teach your child about fake news and how to use social media only after completing homework and other chores. Finally, ensure that your child feels safe and comfortable enough to come to you should things go wrong, knowing that you are there to help and not judge.