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How to know your child is ready for social media

13 is the age most kids can handle being exposed to social media

In Summary

• The first thing to know is that restricting social media use will only lead them to use it in secret.

• That could be even more dangerous because they might go looking in places they have no business looking.

Image: courtesy: Pinterest

In this age of technology, children are as digital as they come.

It is not uncommon to see a child having a phone, tablet, or laptop before they even start Grade one.

Kids these days are on social media as soon as they are out of the womb, courtesy of their parents. This trend was common among celebrities but as trends do, they have caught on among common netizens.

But how old is old enough to be on social media?

According to experts, 13 is the age most kids can handle being exposed to social media.

"It is illegal for social media websites to collect data from anyone under 13," the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule says.

Social media platforms require that children under 13 years have parental consent to open an account.

If a child is, for example, using an account that belongs to their parents, it could be exposing them to potential harm.

Social media affects even the Mental Health of adults so it would have adverse effects on children.

In October 2021, former Facebook employee Frances Haugen blew the whistle on Facebook’s algorithm that propels the spread of misinformation instead of stopping it.

The whistle-blower revealed to The Wall Street Journal that Facebook’s algorithm overlooks reports by teenage girls and boys who report the effects of harmful content they encounter on the platform, prioritising more engagement over users' mental well-being.

So, how can you make sure that your child will be safe from such neglect by social media companies?

The first thing to know is that restricting social media use will only lead them to use it in secret.

That could be even more dangerous because they might go looking in places they have no business looking. The best thing to do is to set rules and boundaries.

Talk to your child about what you are okay with them seeing on social media and let them know the consequences of going beyond the boundaries.

If your child likes to keep to themselves, you should make it clear that they are free to come to you for anything.

This way, if anything is happening online that is out of the ordinary, they can come to you for help.

Children who struggle with peer pressure may not be ready for social media because they may be easily misled by people on the internet.

According to ThinkUKnow, children who give in to peer pressure may often fall prey to online perpetrators.

It may also affect their self-image as they try to become like their online 'role models'.

Make sure they know basic online safety and etiquette as well.

Are they likely to overshare on the internet, letting strangers know a lot of details about them and their private life?

It is difficult to monitor what children are up to 24/7 so, make sure you equip them with the necessary information.

Teach them to be kind on the internet, not engage with trolls, and where to report bad situations on social media apps.

That way, they can handle such situations even in your absence.