KIDS AND SOCIAL NETWORKING: WHEN IT’S OKAY AND WHEN IT’S NOT

“When can I have a Facebook, mommy?” is a usual question from kids to the parents. And they can give a whole bunch of reasons which can enhance their argument.  But in the end, the reasons do not matter; The kids should wait until they are older.  What is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.  Although everybody has good kids,  in no way they are capable enough to handle all of the factors that come along with having a Facebook page.

With social networking services such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Facebook becoming more and more popular, it’s not a surprise that kids of all ages want to engage and connect using these platforms.  It’s become fun for kids, especially teenagers, to take photos and post them.  With stars gripping the hearts of adolescent girls everywhere, finding Tumblr and Instagram pages dedicated to these objects of their affections can be easily found on the Internet.  Facebook allows these kids to post their thoughts and share the good times (and the bad).

But when is it okay for your child to hop on the social networking wagon and when is it not?  The answer is simply, it depends on the individual child.  But in general, students should be knowledgeable enough about the dangers of the internet. However, the child must be made fully aware that his/her parents will have access to the account at all times and if they find out anything sinister, the account would be deleted immediately. Or if the grades slipped, the account should be suspended for a period of time.  With all of the privacy settings and security procedures in place, you can let your child explore social media.

So if you are still undecided about allowing your kids to partake in social breakdown, here are some tips:

1.  What’s the Purpose behind the account? 

Whether it’s Twitter or Tumblr, your child should have a reason for wanting to have access to a particular social network. Yet, if you’re still not comfortable with your child having an account, suggest alternatives. For example, If Instagram is a no-go, install a photoshop program or app; have your child use one of those applications and then offer to post the finished photo where family and friends can see it.

2.  Rules are Must.

Let your child know that social networking comes with great responsibility so rules must be established.  If those rules are broken, the account privileges will simply be revoked.  Be specific and detailed; write them down if you have to.  That way your child can’t say “well you didn’t tell me I couldn’t do that”.  

3.  Monitor their activity, often.

Have the usernames and passwords to all the accounts of your kid. They will know at any time, you can go in and see what’s going. They must know that if anything inappropriate is found out, the account will be removed in the blink of an eye. Become a “friend” on all of the accounts so you can see what’s been posted just by logging on to your account. 

4.  No mere Excuses. 

Explain to your children that just because a friend, classmate, cousin or even a sibling has a social networking account, doesn’t mean that he or she is going to get one.  Again, no one knows your child better than you.  If you don’t feel your son or daughter is mentally ready for a Facebook page or an Instagram account, then go with your gut and say “no”.

5.  Make sure your child knows social networking is a privilege, not a right.

I can giveth and I can taketh away.  If being on Pinterest is taking up too much of their time and starts to interfere with their ability to do homework and chores, then you have a problem.  Tell your child that unlike, school and housework, social networking can take a backseat. That makes a big difference. 

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