Social media helps to connect people worldwide. It’s now a big part of our everyday lives: scrolling through our newsfeed and communicating with people through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter; this is the new normal. But what about your children? Is it safe for your them to join the online world?

Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat all have policies prohibiting children under 13 from signing up. Despite these age restrictions, a growing number of kids below that age are using social media.

According to the Children’s Online Privacy Act, it’s illegal for websites and applications to allow children under 13 years old of age to open up an account without parental consent. According to commonsensemedia.org, it is better for parents to introduce social media to their 13-year-old children; this is the age where a child starts to develop a broader understanding of the world around them. This is the developmentally appropriate stage where the child knows what information should be shared publicly in their timeline.

It’s easy to take social media for granted but remember that like the real world, social media platforms can at times be dangerous for your child. Your child might be a victim of cyberbullying and get exposed to inappropriate content such as pornography. Predators and perverts are all over the internet, and there’s a chance your child could meet one.

Some children may become vulnerable to thoughts of suicide because of what they see and hear on social media — and this can happen without the parents being aware of it.

If your kids are interested in joining social media, be sure to guide and teach them how they should behave online. Discuss with them the pros and cons before entering any particular social media platform. It’s your job to look after your child’s social media consumption.

Make sure you have their accounts and passwords and follow them with your own account; this helps you monitor the safety of the social media content they are exposed to. Also, assure your child that he or she can talk to you if problems arise in the online world– like bullying or if a person asks for their personal information.

Let your child join the cyber world; it is fun and exciting, but lay down the rules of using technology from the beginning. Explain that what happens today might affect his or her future. For more parenting tips, visit PhilCare!

  
Sources:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/11/02/kids.social.networks/index.html
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/diana-graber/3-reasons-why-social-media-age-restrictions-matter_b_5935924.html

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