If you are reading this, then chances are your child is at the age where you have to make some parenting decisions about social media and phone usage. How do you decide what social media sites to allow your kids on? How do you know when they are old enough for one site over another? It can be difficult to determine just which social media site is appropriate for you and your family, and it can be even more difficult finding good general guidelines of what is and isn’t necessarily age-appropriate for your child. If you are looking for some quick guidelines on parental controls on social media for various ages, then keep reading.
Safety Recommendations by Age
First things first: most social media sites will not allow children under the age of 13 to have an account, though that doesn’t always stop kids from falsely creating one. Likewise, some parents won’t mind overlooking the age limits of some apps, especially if they feel their child is mature and responsible enough, and if many of the child’s friends are already on Snapchat.
For preteens, it is best to start the conversation about social media safety early and openly, so that when they are finally old enough and ready to create their very first account, they are aware of the dangers. This is also a good time to establish a Phone Contract governing your kid’s use of their own phone.
Once your child turns 13, they can officially enter the social media world. It is recommended that parents set up Instagram parental controls right from the beginning and if you haven’t already, express the importance of ensuring their safety and privacy with the right account settings. Begin to talk to your children about the dangers of posting photos (or sharing texts) involving inappropriate content, and impress on them that even though their account may be set to private, that doesn’t mean that others can not see what they are posting.
As children begin to reach the 16-18 year age bracket, parents should be extending more trust. Things like Snapchat parental controls should still be in place, but guardians will need to allow and trust their child to start making their own decisions about online safety, and privacy. The skills teens develop during this time frame will help establish safe practices for when they are adults. As they get ready and head off to college, they should be aware that often, what they post online is taken into account by the college they choose to attend, and that some colleges may continue to monitor accounts for both school safety, as well as personal safety. Likewise, if they are applying for an after-school or summer job, potential employers may be viewing their social media profiles.
Once your child turns 18, they are now an adult, and as hard as it may be, it is at this point that as a parent you should allow them complete freedom on their social media accounts. Even if you are still paying for their cell phone under a family plan, or if they are still living at home while going to school, they deserve the same level of privacy you would afford another adult. Of course, you can still be there for them to offer advice and support for any cyberbullying, trolling, or stalking they encounter online. The conversations you had when they were younger should have laid the groundwork for healthy and open communication that will leave them comfortable coming to you for help and perspective well into their adult years.
Early Preventative Actions
The best plan of action that you can take is to talk to your kids early and often about social media usage, the dangers, the benefits, and how to keep safe. You can talk to your children about what parental control settings and monitoring apps you’ll be using and why. We created Jiminy to allow teens to have the freedom and privacy they desire, while still allowing you the peace of mind knowing that you will be alerted should something important, troublesome, or worrying come up.
You know your child best and while these helpful guidelines can give you an idea of just which parental controls on social media are appropriate for your family, only you can truly know what will work best for you and yours.