Category: Social Media Safety

At What Age Should Kids Be Allowed to Join Social Media?

What Age Should Kids Be Allowed to Join Social Media

At what age should you consider allowing your child to join social media? Most social media platforms require children to be at least 13 to create an account. Your child may not be ready at 13, but that’s OK. Here are some things you should consider to determine your child’s readiness to have social media accounts.

Risks of Joining Social Media

Many risks come with having social media that can make parents rightfully weary. Some digital predators can take advantage of your child’s innocence. If your child’s account isn’t set to private, they can gain suspicious followers who may leave inappropriate comments or send messages to your child.

This is dangerous for many reasons, and you should educate and warn your child of all the dangers they might face when they have an account on social media. You can never completely eliminate a photo from the internet once it’s posted. Ensure your child knows how pictures and posts can come back to haunt them in the future, like when applying to jobs or colleges. Online predators are everywhere, so educate your child on how to identify and block exploiters and what not to post on their socials.

Social media can also negatively affect your child’s mental health. Regardless of how old your child is, limit their screen time and monitor how it’s impacting their emotional development. Too much social interaction online can make children feel more isolated and alone, leading them to feel depressed and socially anxious.

Cyberbullying is also a prevalent and genuine concern for parents. Your child may even develop unrealistic expectations of body image from the things they see on social media.

Prepare Yourself and Your Child

There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself and your child for when they are ready to have social media accounts. If you think your child is too young now, ensure they understand why they aren’t ready. Discuss an age limit after which they’ll be ready, and give them something to look forward to so they don’t go behind your back.

Discuss the risks of social media and help them understand the consequences of dangerous behavior. Set boundaries and rules for your child’s online presence. Ensure you know how to use the platform they want to access so you can show them the ropes. Keep all location features turned off and show them how to set their profile to private. You can set parental controls on most platforms to supervise your child’s account until they are older.

This might be an excellent way to compromise and give your child the opportunity to show you they can be responsible online. Set a good example on your own profile, too, and ensure your child knows that you trust them and are monitoring them for their protection, not to invade their privacy.

You may also want to evaluate your own technology habits. Many adults struggle with having a healthy relationship with technology. According to one study, 76% of Americans said they check their email and messages while on vacation – a time when they should be focused on making memories with their families.

When kids see their parents constantly checking their phones, it can set the wrong example and lead them to pick up the same habits. If you can’t go an hour without checking your social media accounts, how can you expect your kids to stay off them?

How to Gauge the Appropriate Age

What age is appropriate for kids to join social media? Although many platforms have a baseline age to create an account, every child’s journey is different. There are many risks to consider, but your personal preference as a parent is the deciding factor. If you’re curious whether your child is ready to join social media, consider taking these factors into account.

Is your child open and honest with you? Will they share information and come to you for help with issues they might experience online? If you have open lines of communication, you will be more likely to trust them with an online presence. Do they come to you with other problems they face? Are they respectful and do they follow other rules and guidelines you have set in your household?

What is your child’s perception of body image? Do they have a healthy relationship with their body? Does your child have an understanding of cause and effect? Do they display abstract thinking that can help them consider the consequences of their actions? If you and your child have open lines of communication, have a healthy body image, and are good at following rules and guidelines, it might be time to let them create an account if you’re comfortable with it.

Joining Social Media

Parenting comes with some hard decisions – and deciding whether your child is ready to join social media is one of them. If you believe your child is old enough and mature enough to trust them with an online presence, discuss the risks and prepare them the best you can. You can learn and grow together. If it doesn’t work out, you can always revoke their right to have an account until they’re a little older and wiser.

Cora Gold Author Bio - Social MediaAuthor bio:
Cora Gold is the Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine, Revivalist. She strives to live a happy and healthy life with her family by her side.

Follow Cora on Facebook and LinkedIn.

How Does Social Media Affect a Teen’s Body Image?

How Does Social Media Affect a Teen’s Body Image?

It is no secret that the impact that social media has on children is far beyond what we should allow. With platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, teens can communicate with each other and share photos and thoughts instantly. But what is less known is how social media affects a teen’s body image.

In this blog post, we will explore the ways in which social media can influence teenagers’ perceptions of their own bodies. We will also discuss some tips for parents who want to help their children maintain a healthy body image in the age of social media.

How does social media affect teens? Learning what it does to their body image

Teen years are already a tough time for many kids. They’re navigating new emotions, trying to fit in with their peers, and figuring out who they are. On top of that, they’re bombarded with images of “perfect” bodies from the media. It’s no wonder that so many teenagers struggle with their body image. Now, a height of 5’8 isn’t that short for a guy, but most social media posts or adverts show guys that are 6ft+. The same goes for girls, most social media posts or adverts show women with perfect hourglass figures when the average size in the UK is actually a size 16. Although this might not seem like a big issue, we have to remember that teenagers see this on a daily basis. During the teenage years, the brain of the average person is still developing. So, when they see these “perfect” bodies on social media, it can have a profound effect on their brain development and how they see themselves.

It leads to a lot of comparisons

One of the primary ways social media negatively impacts a teen’s body image is by driving them to compare themselves against others. With an overabundance of images of so-called “perfect” bodies, it’s easy for teenagers to understandably start comparing their own appearance with what they see on social media. If they don’t stack up favorably, it often leads to feelings of shame, insecurity, and poor self-esteem. Constantly comparing their lives to the ‘perfect’ ones they see on social media, teenagers may feel like they don’t measure up in terms of looks, popularity, or success. And when they witness their peers achieving things that they haven’t accomplished yet, it can result in feelings of jealousy and insecurity.

It can cause eating disorders

Social media also takes a toll on a teen’s body image by causing or worsening eating disorders. Many teenagers feel immense pressure to have the “perfect” figure, which for some can lead to the development of anorexia, bulimia, crash dieting, or over-exercising. Not only does social media engender eating disorders, but it can also trigger those who are already struggling with their body image. Say someone with anorexia Views pictures of stick-thin celebrities or models on social media and compares themselves to those images. This might lead to a harmful pattern of restrictive eating and compulsive exercising.

It can cause body dysmorphia

People with body dysmorphia see their own bodies in an inaccurate way. For example, they may think they are fat even when they aren’t. Social media can make body dysmorphia worse in two ways. First, being constantly exposed to people with “perfect” bodies on social media can cause the condition in people who are vulnerable to it. Second, for those who already have body dysmorphia, social media can be a trigger. For example, someone with body dysmorphia may spend hours browsing through pictures of thin celebrities on social media and comparing their own bodies to those images; this constant comparison can make teenagers feel less adequate and less valued.

It can be a gateway to mental illness

Social media is partly to blame for worsening mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression in teenagers. Studies have found that there is a relationship between time used on social media and subsequently developing mental health issues like loneliness, anxiety, or depression. It’s speculated that social media can cause or make worse certain mental health problems in numerous ways. For example, constant exposure to “perfect” lives can lead to feelings of envy and jealousy. In addition, social media can be a trigger for those who are already struggling with mental health problems. For example, someone with depression may spend hours scrolling through pictures of happy people on social media and comparing their own lives to those images. This constant comparison can lead to feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, and low self-esteem.

It can render development in teenagers

Some of the harsher impacts of social media on a teen’s body image are that it can stunt their emotional and physical development. For example, if a teenager is constantly comparing their own bodies to the “perfect” images they see on social media, they may start to believe that they need to either look or behave a certain way to be able to achieve the things they want in life. Furthermore, by making teenagers think that they will “never achieve this type of physique”, many teenagers can simply give up and not try at all. This then leads to a less active lifestyle and consequently can stunt their physical development as well.

It increases the risk of developing anxiety and depression

Although we did touch on this subject two paragraphs above, when speaking about depression and anxiety, it’s important to reiterate how detrimental social media can be to a teenager’s mental state. Social media plays a role in increasing the risk of developing anxiety and depression because it can be a trigger for those who are already struggling with mental health problems. For example, someone with depression may spend hours scrolling through pictures of happy people on social media and comparing their own lives to those images. This constant comparison can lead to feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, and low self-esteem.

Social media is not as bad as one might perceive it. However, because there are children on the platforms, it is our duty to ensure that we are not causing more harm than good. We need to have open discussions about the impact of social media on body image and mental health so that we can help our children develop healthy relationships with social media.

The Parent’s Guide To Navigating Twitch.TV

Parent's Guide To Navigating Twitch.TV

Twitch has gained popularity over the years as a place where everyone can entertain and express themselves through live content and interact with others who share the same interests. With the continued popularity of the streaming platform, the risks for its younger users also run high.

Even with Twitch’s tireless efforts to filter inappropriate content, it is nearly impossible to monitor all livestreams. Much less monitor every interaction between users, both public and private.

In this guide, we’ll look at how Twitch works, the possible risks one might encounter while on Twitch, and whether it’s safe to entrust your teens with staying on this social streaming platform.

What is Twitch?

Twitch TV started as an online social streaming platform where gamers worldwide come to discuss their favorite games. Here, users can stream gameplay, and other users can watch and interact with them live through chat.

Today, it has grown from a game streaming platform to a place for people interested in music, esports, arts and crafts, food, and In Real Life (IRL) content.

There are two ways a user can participate in Twitch – as a streamer or as a viewer. Twitch Creators, also called Streamers, are the ones who do a variety of activities in front of the camera, like playing games, cooking, hosting a talk show, or creating artwork.

Those on the other side of the livestream who choose to watch and interact instead are called the Viewers.

How does Twitch work?

The highlight of Twitch is the streaming feature, where creators share gameplay and other activities live while making commentary. Their followers interact with them in real-time through chat.

Viewers can show their support to streamers by:

  • Subscribing to their channel
  • Making donations
  • Sending them cheers (can be purchased with Bits, the in-house currency of Twitch)

All of these require real money.

The minimum age requirement to create an account on Twitch is 13, but parental guidance is highly encouraged for users between 13 and 18 years old.

Some kids will be adamant and won’t listen to their parents regarding being supervised, saying that they’re already “already grown up” or “old enough” to watch Twitch alone. If this happens, stay strong and stand your ground.

Is Twitch TV safe?

Here are the potential dangers of using Twitch that you should watch out for:

Scammers

Several Twitch users and fellow streamers have reported scammers claiming to be suffering from personal problems or helping a charity.

Unfortunately, many users fall for this, and some scammers have gotten away with it, especially from their younger fans.

Online predators

Anyone on Twitch can freely send direct messages or whisper to fellow users, including online predators looking to fish out sensitive information or ask kids to do something inappropriate.

Adult content

Because of the challenge of monitoring every livestream happening on Twitch, your kid may likely encounter a stream with themes of harassment, bullying, hate speech, and other displays of inappropriate behavior online.

Violence in games played by streamers.

Some of the games streamers play may contain violence or heavy themes. Since censorship is nearly impossible in a livestream, streamers can’t do much to prevent their younger audience from seeing these violent scenarios.

Accidental spending

There have been cases of accidental spending on Twitch by younger users, where they have spent thousands of dollars on their parents’ accounts to donate or subscribe to a streamer.

Link scams

Some users may send links to fellow users that are actually phishing websites where they steal sensitive info such as personal details and credit card numbers.

How to make Twitch TV a safe digital space for your child

The Amazon-owned platform is enforcing age restrictions for new users and is constantly updating its policies to keep it safe for users of all ages.

On the other hand, here’s what you can do to keep Twitch a safe space of entertainment for your kids:

1. Co-watching

Twitch’s guideline mentions that users under 18 must have a parent or a guardian supervising them while using the streaming platform. Parents can thus monitor what their children watch and what content they’re exposed to.

2. Turn on chat filters.

When on a live stream, scroll down to the bottom of the chat box, click Settings (the gear icon next to the Chat button), and toggle the Enable filtering in chat option. You can also select the specific filters you want to block on chat.

3. Block private messages (or Whispers)

Go to Settings, then Security and Privacy, and select block whispers from strangers.

Anyone who is not a friend or follower, a moderator from a channel they follow, or a Twitch partner or staff will not be able to message your child.

4. Implement Parental Controls

As of writing, there are no specific parental controls for streaming on Twitch.  However, you can use third-party software as a band-aid solution to help you set screen time for your children, filter messages, and monitor their online activities.

If your teen plans to stream on Twitch, you can edit the Moderation settings on the Creator Dashboard.

5. Tell Twitch “you’re not interested” in mature content

If you encounter a stream on your child’s Twitch feed with mature or questionable content, select the three vertical dots on the upper right side of the video. Then, choose I am not interested in this recommendation.

6. Restrict access to your bank account

As mentioned before, accidental spending happens. You never know when your teen might get carried away with donating or subscribing without knowing they’re charging it to your account.

7. Have an open discussion about the risks of being online and watching livestreams

Tell them not to share personal information with strangers, even with online friends. And if they feel like they’re encountering something suspicious or inappropriate, assure them they can come to you for help.

Is Twitch Safe?

Twitch is safe to use as long as your child exercises caution and is extra mindful of their online behavior. Continuous monitoring of their activities, messages, and the content they consume on Twitch is imperative to ensure their safety.

On the other hand, Twitch is determined to implement its Community Guidelines and rules. If a user violates these rules and guidelines, Twitch will impose a temporary or permanent ban, depending on their offense. The platform is also updating its policies from time to time to protect its users from malicious behaviors and activities.

How to Discuss Social Media Safety with Your Kids

How to Discuss Social Media Safety with Your Kids

Your child may be unaware of the potential dangers of social media or how it will affect them. While social media offers a platform for a child to learn and engage with others, they may put themselves at risk, especially if they are just getting started. Add to the fact there are multiple avenues for kids to engage with others online, where does a parent begin?

Given that 49% of kids between 10 – 12 years and 32% of 7-9-year-olds are accessing social media, there’s an urgent need for social media risk management. Let’s discuss how to begin a conversation on social media safety and the best way to go about it.

What Is the Right Time to Discuss Social Media Safety?

The best time to start talking with your child about social media is before they are old enough to go online and join a social media network.  Each parent needs to decide what the appropriate age is for each their kids.  If your child shows an interest in social media, initiate an honest conversation with them about what it is. Also, emphasize safe practices when handling social media.

How to Make the Most of Your Conversation

It may be an uncomfortable and frustrating experience discussing sensitive topics with your child. But the key is creating a safe space for an open discussion, and here are some tips to make the conversation go smoothly.

Don’t Lecture Your Child: Talk to your child instead of talking at them by making it an interactive conversation, and allowing them to share their thoughts and experiences. Create an environment where they can freely ask and discuss questions.

Ask Open-Ended Questions: Asking open-ended questions is an excellent strategy to make the conversation a two-way street and encourage your child to think and participate. For instance, asking your kid if they have experienced online bullying prompts them to share their online experience and further the discussion, which naturally leads to more questions.

Social Media Safety Topics to Discuss with Your Children

You can cover many social media topics, but start with the basic concepts during your first discussion. As your children grow older and gain more online experience, you can adjust the content and depth of your conversation to increase their knowledge. Here are some of the topics to start the conversation.

  1. Start a Discussion About Types of Hacking

Teaching your kids about cyber security is one of the first steps in social media risk management. Your children may not know how to keep themselves safe from losing their identity and information to hacking because they are easy targets. Educate them on what hacking is and to look out for:

  • Suspicious gift cards that prompt them to click links. Kids can overshare on social media, and hackers can use this information to create scams that sound exciting and urgent by targeting their emotions.
  • Kids fall victim to phishing attempts where hackers trick them into disclosing their personal information. They may get prompts to confirm their details or earn free money from famous brands.

Hackers make these offers look real, but they’re too good to be true. Teaching your kids about these threats protects them from becoming victims. You can also encourage them to use strong passphrases and passwords.

  1. Stress the Importance of Password Hygiene

Security may not be at the top of your child’s mind, and they may commit the mistake of poor password hygiene, allowing attackers easy access. The kids might reuse compromised passwords, easy-to-guess passwords, or add sequential numbers to base passwords.

Password hygiene emphasizes choosing and managing passwords securely. Teach your kids to choose passwords that are difficult to guess, create a unique password for each social media account, and avoid writing down the password or sharing it with others.

  1. Educate them on Online Predators

There are approximately 500,000 predators online daily, so your kids should learn how to avoid them. Kids unknowingly post personal information, and online predators use social media to find out as much as they can about your child. These predators create an online persona based on your child’s interests and age.

Warn them that online predators can use fake photos to make them believe they are kids. So, they have no idea who is behind a profile they are interacting with. Practice social media risk management by asking them to follow the below security guidelines

  • They must not chat or share pictures with strangers
  • Never disclose their personal information, such as their home address, school, phone number, or last name.
  • Limit their social media friends to people they know.

Kids must be alert, follow their instincts, report to an adult, and block or leave an uncomfortable conversation. Once in a while, look at your child’s phone. Check for any mysterious apps installed for private communication.

Start the Social Media Safety Conversation Today

Social media platforms pose a significant risk to your kids, and they are an easy target to hackers, phishers, and online predators. Educate them on the importance of social media risk management by making them aware of the potential dangers of social media and how to handle them. Let your kids know they can come to you with concerns.

There is also great peer pressure for kids to connect with friends on social media.  Let them know that combined with the importance of staying safe online, their personal well being is just as important and kids should feel free to not engage with other friends online if they don’t want to.  Or at very least, they can reduce the time they spend online.

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