Most kids these days get their first phone at age 10 and by age 11 they’re opening their first social media accounts. But by all accounts, including kids who have done this themselves, 11 is young to be on social media. So, what is the right age to allow them access? What age is ok for kids to have social media?
You won’t be surprised to find out that the answer to this question is complicated. Not all social media platforms are created equally and some are far more harmful than others. Facebook is considered to be slightly more family-friendly thanks to the constant adult presence on the platform. While platforms like Twitter and Reddit are crawling with adult content.
Things to Consider
It isn’t just the content that your kids might be exposed to that you need to worry about. Studies have shown social media platforms like Instagram and Tiktok where likes, comments, and shares actually has an impact on mental health. Kids are more likely to tie their sense of self-worth to those numbers, leading to depression, a change of identity, and sometimes much worse when things don’t go well on social media platforms.
Most experts agree that somewhere between the ages of 13 and 16 are the best times to allow your kids to join social media. However, it is also pointed out that if kids want to be on social media, no matter their age, they’re going to do it, behind your back if they must.
Implement Ground Rules
So, rather than banning your children from using social media consider having ground rules. Keeping an open dialog with them is encouraged instead. Talk to them about the things that they might see on social media including graphic content, photoshopped bodies, and more. Explain to them that there are predators out there and just like in real life they need to be wary of strangers they meet online. You should also talk to them about how everything posted online lasts forever.
If there are some platforms you don’t want them on or you are concerned about make them a family affair. Create a family Tiktok account that you all make videos for together. Then, if they want to have their own account explain to them the reasons why you don’t feel it’s safe. Be open and honest about it and tell them at what age you will allow them to use that platform.
You might also consider following their accounts on all platforms, just to keep an eye on what they’re doing. Be their first “stranger” fan and at the end of each day go on and see what they’ve been up to. Give their posts a like maybe even leave a comment, as an anonymous stranger, not their parent.
Social media is here to stay, so sheltering your kids from these types of communication is only going to stunt their growth in the future. This doesn’t mean you should let them run wild either. It’s all a matter of striking the right balance with your child’s maturity level and needs.