Category: Social Media Safety

Is Mastodon Safe? | Social Media Safety

Is Mastodon Safe for Children and Teens?

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.

Article Outline:

  1. What is Mastodon?
  2. What’s Different About Mastodon?
  3. Are Kids and Teens Using Mastodon?
  4. Is Mastodon Safe?
  5. Steps to Social Media Safety?
  6. Video that explains Mastodon

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.

About Twitter

  • It’s a company with rules and terms of use.
  • 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.

About Mastadon

  • 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.

Mastodon Explained (Video Guide)

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 while finding ways to encourage your child’s social life without social media. 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 live streams. 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 a social network for gamers where users could stream content and discuss their favorite games. Here, those on the site can stream gameplay, and others 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:


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.

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