Is Mastodon Safe? | Social Media Safety
Mastodon has been around since 2016 but has recently become more well known to the average person. This is a result of controversial issues of late related to Twitter since Elon Musk took over. The new popularity of Mastodon is because many have posted that they would like to leave Twitter.
Growing interest means it’s yet another social media network that more children and teens may potentially begin using, if they aren’t already.
We’ll navigate through the world of Mastodon and explore whether it is a safe place for kids or not. Informed parents and educators is always the first step to ensuring social media safety and internet safety in general.
What is Mastodon?
The buzz on social media and in the news these days is that Mastodon is an attractive alternative to Twitter. It’s an open source social network where you can connect with others while building a common online community that exists on individual servers. These communities are controlled by the members, which gives them ability to make the group private if they choose. Members can also screen those who join their community, but many groups are open to anyone. Unlike Twitter, Mastodon does not have control over users.
What’s Different About Mastodon?
Mastodon is a social network like Twitter, but with distinct operational differences.
- Everything on Twitter is owned and controlled by the owners.
- You must join Twitter to take part in connecting with others.
- It’s a for profit enterprise that serves ads.
- All users are being monitored by Twitter to ensure they abide by their rules or risk being removed from the platform.
- Twitter is one large social media network that connects everyone into one large group.
- It’s Open Source Software. It is decentralized and managed by a non-profit organization.
- Anyone is free to create their own online community and manage it as they see fit.
- Mastodon is powered by those who use it on individual servers.
- There are no ads and Mastodon does not monitor members and their various interests
- Mastodon cannot they remove anyone from using it, because it’s not a single entity.
- Members of any group are subject to the code of conduct set out by the communities they are a part of. Removal from those groups is done by the server’s creator or moderation team, but it does not remove you from joining other groups.
Are Kids and Teens on Mastodon?
There have always been youth under 18 years of age using Mastodon, but it’s not a popular social networks of choice. Kids are always looking for new ways to connect online and are typically open to trying new things. Twitter has never been an ideal method for kids to connect online with others of their own age because there are no groups, as such. Twitter is very much a public forum.
The allure of Mastodon is total freedom create a personal group or join existing groups around certain interests. It is not clear how many kids are using Mastodon because it is a decentralized and unmonitored network.
Is Mastodon Safe?
The idea behind Mastodon was to democratize social media. Initially, it was create a safe place for any user to form their own communities and remove anyone that is harmful to that community. On the other hand, Mastodon gives children the control to create their own groups without supervision, whether private or open. There is no watch dog. Even social media sites like TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram, which are not necessarily the safest place online for kids, are monitored and safe guards to prevent harmful content to minors.
A private group controlled by a trusted adult on Mastodon can be safe, but a child left to their own self monitoring can open them up to predators or connecting with others kids that have different values. There are also no parental controls to stop children from joining other communities or stumbling upon material that is explicit.
We don’t like to dictate or pass judgement on whether a parent decided to allow there child on a particular social media platform, but the autonomy given to users to connect with others is a concern. There have also been reports of bad content on Mastodon that are not allowed to exists on other platforms.
If you are looking to form groups for school, discord is a better alternative even though discord has it’s own challenges related to a child’s wellbeing online.
Steps to Social Media Safety
Parents must remain vigilant to know what their kids are doing online. Parental control installations on all of their devices can allow parents to prevent certain apps from being installed. Still, parental controls can only go so far to monitor activity should you allow apps to be used.
Mastodon provides great freedom to journalists and political pundits but with great freedom comes more freedom than what you want you child to have online. Follow basic internet safety tips and install parental controls as you decide what’s best for your family.