Why It Is Never Too Early to Instill Ideal Social Media Habits in Your Children


    If you think you'll be able to wait until your child is well into her teenage years to talk to her about using social media apps and networks, think again. Even though children under the age of 13 are not permitted to use social media platforms such as Instagram, many elementary school students find ways to bypass the process. The number of children who make profiles on popular social media platforms (whether they have parental consent or not) using fictitious birthdays and a parent's email address is problematic.

    There are undeniable advantages to having children of the appropriate age communicate with their classmates on social networks. Facebook and other related sites provide more than enough opportunities for kids to be inspired by others' accomplishments and express themselves imaginatively.

    However, parents should be mindful of their children's potential to be exposed to cyberbullying and inappropriate information and content. Younger children, in particular, may be oblivious of the consequences of their online actions, putting them in danger. Child and family counseling is also helpful to learn about your child and develop a therapy treatment plan that will support your child and move them towards the change you would like to see.

    The debate rages on. Many experts discourage the regular use of social media for the simple (and rational) reason kids are kids, and they're still developing intellectually and psychologically.

    Children between the ages of 7 and 11 are still highly concrete thinkers who haven't yet mastered the ability to evaluate hypothetical circumstances. So, when a pre-adolescent girl posts a video showing how to style her hair, she's thinking to herself, "My pals will see this, and it will be amazing!"

    She can't think about who else might see that video, leave hurtful remarks, or even repost it and exploit it to promote hair products. There are so many possibilities when you are on social media, basically anyone's digital playground. Indeed, some kids can 'take it.' Some children may be capable of using social media before reaching the legal age of 13, but the majority will not.


    Setting Social Media Ground Rules

    Here are solid pointers to get you started when it comes to instilling excellent social media habits at an early age:

    1.   Once you decide to allow your child to use social media for the first time, approach the scenario as if you were taking a new swimmer to the grownup pool.  Go together to keep an eye on your child as she gets her bearings.

    Experts advise that you visit the website too (if you haven't already) and familiarize yourself with the app's potential applications and risk factors before allowing your child to use it. 

    You have to be proactive - learn the app and ecosystem of the social media platform to arm your child with information. Too often, parents act phobic towards technology and disregard the entire system as 'rubbish.' This attitude is not helpful and will only alienate your child and what she wants to do.

    2.   Learn your child's login and password, and follow him with your account to ensure you have complete access to her profile. If your child uses YouTube for creating and posting videos, you can request that she make all of his YouTube uploads "unlisted," which means that they'll only be watched by individuals who have received a link from her. Remind her that if they're set on "public," anyone can see them and leave nasty or offensive remarks.

    Another critical safety concern is geotagging (the process of stamping a photo or video with the area where it was shot or recorded).  Before you allow your kids to publish these media, go to their phone's settings and disable "location services." Remind them to watch this setting too, when using apps and other mobile devices.

    Homes typically have anywhere from three to six different mobile devices, from iPhones to tablet PCs. Any of these devices can reveal a child's location via geotagging. Facebook, of all platforms, even suggests constantly showing the person's location in a post, presumably to create a more exciting experience for those consuming the content.

    3.   Experts recommend starting with free questions that can help kids figure out why they want to join Twitter or any other social network, what an ideal and happy online experience would be like for your kids, and who they could go to if something seems uncomfortable or doesn't go as planned. This approach allows them to consider how they would describe and create a positive online experience in advance.

    4.   Many people are unaware that they may make their social media accounts private. When you set your profile to private mode, only authorized followers will be able to see, comment on, and like your content. This may help to keep your kid's confidential info out of the hands of the wrong people.

    5.   Receiving hurtful remarks on social networks can damage a child's self-esteem; making such remarks themselves might cause problems. Discuss how social media etiquette works with your youngster.

    6.   The self-discipline of kids and tweens is still developing. Therefore it's not uncommon for them to spend a couple of hours on social media networks whenever they feel. Collaborate to determine how much time they should spend using apps every day, whether it's 10 minutes or an hour.

    7.   Ensure your child understands that she may come to you if something awful or strange occurs on social networks, such as another youngster harassing her or anyone she doesn't know contacting her or asking for private details. It's a dialogue you need to start before giving her the gadget or allowing her to join the website, and you need to keep it going. Remember to be decisive in establishing the boundaries for using tech from the start (how and when she could use it and precise consequences if she violates them).

    8.   It's easy to become fixated on how many likes your content receives on social media, as any adult who's ever done so knows, and even the youngest users aren't immune to this method of determining their self-worth. Experts warn, however, that most social networking apps are focused on photos and videos that emphasize appearances rather than talent, emotions, and deep thoughts.

    Experts warn, however, that most social networking apps are focused on photos and videos that emphasize appearances rather than talent, emotions, and deep thought. 

    Constant exposure to pictures that emphasize attractiveness, popularity, and even "sexiness" sends a hazardous message to young females, especially.

    Encourage your child to post about literature she likes, issues she cares about, and sound messages she'd like to convey to prevent her from slipping too far into the "see how gorgeous I am" lane.