Social Media wasn’t a thing for most of us growing up, or at the very least, caught us in early adulthood. We didn’t have apps in the palm of our hands that told us what to wear, eat, or listen to. However, we’re now raising kids that are faced with this everyday. We asked dads two things: What age they would let their children on social media, what guidance did they have. Here’s some fatherly advice:
- 13 is the rule, though one dad suggested 16 and another never! For most even 13 is going to seem old. It’s hard for a tween or early teen to get through school without a device. But at younger ages, their usage of social media needs to be monitored even more closely.
- When they’re just starting on social media, be in the room with them. That’s when they’re going to talk about what they’re seeing – or at the very least point out something funny!
- Soft launch. Start with one platform and see how it goes.
- Choose what platforms you are okay with them being on. Setting boundaries and expectations allows everyone to be on the same page.
- Monitor, and have access to, all forms of social media. Can you control every single detail? No, but do your best to stay informed. (One popular app for this is Bark, which sends alerts for suspicious activity.)
- Discuss the risks of having an online presence. This should include photos and the inability to delete something once it’s left your device.
- Remember: You are the parent. One dad said he brought in his company’s IT consultant who told his children about the dangers of certain apps, particularly for younger children. Kids weren’t happy but the dad brought in a pro to back up his words.
- You’re the example. If you’re living your life on social media, often distracted from what your family is doing, is it realistic to think your children will listen to you when you tell them to limit their social media usage? Kids watch what we do way more than they listen to what we say.
It’s also good to remember that social media isn’t all bad—it’s used to connect friends and family that live apart, teach us recipes, how to change a headlight, and so much more. The question becomes, how do we prepare our children for the world of social media? Our thought: by instilling a lot of love, confidence, and a duty to treat others with kindness and respect online and in-person.
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