As the world of social media continues to grow, even the skeptics now have to accept that these online platforms aren’t going anywhere. For parents, this means that social media is something they will have to incorporate in their children’s development.
There are plenty of reasons for parents to worry about their children’s online activity, but the question has become ‘how early is too early?’
Federal regulations prohibit children under the age of 13 to join most social media websites. But there have been countless cases of children faking their age in order to create an account on Facebook, Twitter, and other big players in the social media world.
Unrestricted Internet use for children has often lead to exposure to cyber bullying (aka getting trolled), inappropriate language, and worse things. In order to prevent this, parents have found success in preparing children for the cyber world the same way they would the real world; by starting with lots of control and restrictions, then making baby steps to freedom as they demonstrate responsibility.
Many companies have catered to this approach and created social media apps and websites designed for children under the age of 13. One of the most well-known safe social media alternatives is Disney’s Club Penguin. Club Penguin is a child-friendly game where users create a penguin avatar and can interact with other users as they earn virtual money to upgrade their outfits, accessories and igloos.
Other websites include Yoursphere, which prides itself on it’s “no sexual predators” promise, and requires parents to provide a background check before starting. Then there is Kidzworld, a platform similar to Facebook but has real-time monitoring of chat rooms to keep things PG.
I never used any of these sites, but they have been successful for many parents in easing their child into the world of social media. I just hope that when I have to face this issue, my child will be content with Neopets like I was.
To read more on this approach, and about these social media alternatives click here.
Iverson, A. (2016, October 30). How to safely introduce children to the social media world. Retrieved October 30, 2016, from http://www.gbtribune.com/section/212/article/100645/