Even though a lot of social media sites technically don’t allow their users to have accounts unless they are a certain age, let’s face it: kids all across the board are online now. It doesn’t matter if it’s YouTube, Instagram or TikTok, kids are clicking, liking, commenting and posting. For parents, this might be very frustrating and if not a little frightening, too. That’s because it almost becomes a part-time job trying to keep up with your child, tween or teen with their social media accounts. And while it might seem like a lot of work, it’s important that you stay in the know, especially during those tween years.
With that said, here are 10 things you need to know about tweens on social media.
If there are age restrictions, your best bet is to keep your child or tween off of social media until they are ready (or mature enough) to handle an account of their own. A lot of social media apps and sites don’t allow users to open their own accounts unless they are 13 years of age or older.
But with that said, it’s very hard to verify a user’s age, let alone their identity. Should your child decide to open an account of their own, make sure you that you are monitoring it at all times and that they are of course following the rules.
There are a lot of adults that have a hard time with this but it’s very important to teach your child to think before they post. What they write, say, post or comment on another user’s post is a reflection of who they are. There’s a very strong possibility that their digital footprint will follow them for the rest of their lives and in most cases, there really is no turning back or deleting what they wrote.
Also, emphasize how important it is that kindness matters. If they wouldn’t say it in front of someone’s face, they certainly shouldn’t say it online.
Many parents would be surprised to learn how many kids have open or public accounts and how much of their personal information is online. Tweens should not have open profiles or allow anyone to access their accounts.
Go over the app’s guidelines with them. Social media experts suggest that parents sit down with their kids and go over what privacy settings are available on the social media’s platform. Also, explain to them that they don’t want the world looking at their content, especially since they have no idea who might be on the other side of the screen. Safety first.
It seems like there is a new trendy app that makes the round every few months and yes, your tween is on it. As a parent, it’s important to keep up with the latest social media apps and know what your child is doing online, even if you don’t “get it” yourself, so to speak.
And we are not just talking about social media apps but the various messenger apps that are online, too. It might seem like a lot of work but it’s worth the effort for parents to look at their teen’s social media apps by reading the reviews or downloading it for themselves.
Sure, your child might have a lot of friends in real life. But do they really have that many friends that they end up having 1,000 followers on Instagram? Probably not. Know who your child’s social media followers are. It should be a general rule to not allow someone to follow them if they don’t know them in real life.
A lot of tweens think they might know “a friend of a friend” but that’s not always the case. Unless they personally know them in real life or if they are family members or close friends, it’s best if they don’t accept new followers.
What a lot of tweens don’t realize is that what they put out on the Internet will most likely stay there forever. Sure, they can delete a post at any time, but there’s a good chance that someone else might have already screengrabbed it beforehand. Talk to your kids about content and what’s appropriate or not appropriate to post.
Bullying, speaking badly about others or mocking someone else should be off-limits. Plus, posting anything controversial (including memes or funny illustrations) should be discouraged as well. Let your kids know that their social media accounts are a reflection of who they are.
When you post something on the Internet, more often than not you can’t take it back. The digital version of saying “I’m sorry” is definitely different than telling someone they are sorry face-to-face. That’s because what is posted out there might be reached by several dozens, hundreds and in some cases thousands of people.
Many tweens with social media accounts don’t realize that when you humiliate someone or post something you normally wouldn’t say out loud, there can be a ripple effect. Remember, there’s always an audience that is watching you and each move you make online. Make the right one.
Many parents believe that they shouldn’t look at their child’s phone because it’s their property and their privacy. With that said, this is the time in their lives that they need the most digital supervision. As a parent, you have the right to take away their phone at any time.
If they break the rules, they lose their privileges. As long as a parent is paying for the phone, she has the right to see everything on it. But at the same time, understand that for some kids their social media lives are important to them. Don’t make them feel undervalued by mocking, belittling or threatening to take it away more often than is necessary.
These days a lot of arguments can happen online or via text message without one word even spoken between two people. Because it’s often difficult to express emotions online, certain things may be perceived or taken the wrong way. Teach your children to avoid digital drama by not getting too emotional online.
Of course, the best thing you can do is to encourage your child to take a social media break if they have been dealing with too much drama. Plus, it can be just as exhausting for kids as it is for adults. A digital detox definitely benefits all.
Last but definitely not least, social media should be a no-bulling zone. Whether it’s via text messages, a messenger app, or social media, your child’s phone shouldn’t be used as something to humiliate, degrade, mock, harass, or provoke another person.
Phones are a mean of communication and it should be used to either contact friends or family or for informational purposes, and definitely not drama. As a parent, you should try to encourage your child to pick hobbies to work on that are offline. Remind them that there are plenty of other things they can do like draw, read, or hang out with their friends in real life.