Social media - two words which scare many people for many different reasons. Over 2 billion people are on social media...
2 BILLION!!! That's a 3rd of the world and the numbers are only rising...
But how many children are using social media?
The Facts (13-17 year olds on social media)
- 71 % of all teens are using more than one social networking site
- 41% of all teens use Facebook
- 20% of all teens use Instagram
- 11% of all teens use Snapchat
- 6% of all teens use Twitter
71% of all teenagers on social media? Surely these social networks have age limits and restrictions to ensure the safety of our children?
So what are the age limits on the most popular social media websites?
- 13 Years Old: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat, Skype, Myspace. Tinder (13-17 year olds version)
- 14 Years Old: LinkedIn
- 16 Years Old: WhatsApp
- 17 Years Old: Tinder (Adult Version)
- 18 Years Old: (or need adult permission): YouTube, Flickr, Xbox Live
Some stats can make for a scary read above more worryingly the harsh reality is that...
THESE AGE RESTRICTIONS MEAN NOTHING!!!
If a child wants to sign up to social media, they will do. Facebook will not ask for proof of age.
Don't worry it's not time for a mass panic! It's just important to understand that children will be using social media and in instances they will be using it excessively.
So how do we educate children on social media?
As parents there are plenty of things we won't understand about our children. Why are they wearing those clothes? Why are they singing that song?
As parents and role models it's important that as adults we understand social media. And to understand the behaviour around social media.
We could just read all of the bad stories about social media and go into a mass panic, urging children to keep away. I't just won't work. Children will use social media. You can't control it.
And if you can't control it, adapt to it.
So how do you educate yourself on social media?
- Create an account: "There are so many social media networks! Where do I start!?" Start easy. Try the biggest social networks, especially those popular with teens aged 13-17 (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat).
- Seek help from an existing user: Social media channels are created to be simple. You will most likely manage alone but getting advice from an existing user during your first steps can be really beneficial to your understanding.
- One step at a time: Do not grab a list of every social network and sign up today. It's important to get a proper grasp of one social channel at a time. Being enthusiastic is great but just be patient.
- It's not a spying tool: Don't sign up to Facebook and immediately send a friend request to your son or daughter and their closest friends. Sign up to educate yourself on how to use social media. Try making your own circles and using it for your own entertainment. This will give you a proper working knowledge of the network. If you spook your child they will just move onto a new network which you don't understand.
- Watch and learn: Ask actual teenagers how they use social media. Create an open and honest dialogue and observe how other teenagers communicate in a mobile and social world.
Educate Your Children
Once you have educated yourself on social media you are able to educate your children on social media. Understanding each network and why children want to be on there allows you to have deeper knowledge and give better advice.
Social media is still relatively new and is still a mystery to many people. It's in our human nature to be afraid of things we don't know. By understanding social media we lose the fear and can educate our children clearly.
We aren't giving you parenting or teaching tips here but here are social media lessons which need to be taught....
The Practical Lessons
If you stop children from being on Twitter or Facebook they’ll just move to WhatsApp or Instagram or SnapChat or Google+ or … you get the point. Give them the skills to make good decisions and to stay safe first and foremost.
1. Teach children that whatever they put online is permanent (this includes texting!) Private is not always private. The photo they post online is not owned by them anymore. It’s owned by Facebook, Instagram, and Google, etc… and they can do what they want with it (so can that bully who happens to be a friend of a friend on Facebook which gives them access to certain photos your child's posts).
2. Teach your child not to interact/follow people they don’t know in person. YouTube star Coby Person has made two fantastic, powerful videos conducting social experiments in which he messages teenagers using a fake profile. This is a real hard-hitting video which should be shown to all children to highlight the dangers of social media.
3. 93% of managers check a candidate's social media profile. This stat is really important. If a child uploads anything which an employer would deem inappropriate, it could stop them from getting for their dream job or even going to their preferred University.
- 55% of managers reconsider a candidate based on what they find on their social media channels
- 44% of hiring managers see posts about alcohol as concerning
- 83% see references about illegal drugs as a huge turn off
- 26% of hiring managers check an applicant's Facebook page
- 16% of hiring managers check an applicants Twitter page
These are just practical lessons to teach your children and are arguably some of the most important lessons about social media. Everything is permanent and your social profile is an extension of yourself, so be cautious and sensible. Not boring... but sensible.
What if a child asks you if they can sign up to social media?
Don't start with NO! If your child is one the few children who has asked you to sign up to social media before doing so. It's important to discuss with your child there reasons for wanting to sign up to social media.
1. Why do you want a Facebook account? They’ll probably answer with something like “Because ALL my friends have one”
2. Which of your friends are on Facebook? Hopefully they will tell you. If not maybe they’re not ready to be on social media
3. Are these the only people you would be friends with on Facebook? This might be a good time to talk about only interacting with people they know in real life. Ask them "what would you do if a stranger added you?"
4. What do you know about Facebook? They may say something like “You talk to friends and share photos”
5. What kind of photos would you be sharing? Our guess is that they’ll say something like “I don’t know. Me and my friends.” This is a great time to talk about what types of photos are appropriate to share online and why
'Hot' Social Networks
You have probably been hearing about these social networks over the past year and have probably heard some stories about them. These social networks are fantastic and have been revolutionary.
However is your child is on the social networks it is important to have a discussion about their proper use.
Here is a quick breakdown on the 'hottest' apps with teenagers right now and some possible dangers to look out for.
- 11% of all teenagers use Snapchat
- 100 million daily active users
- 65% of users post at least once daily
- 30% of all millennials use Snapchat
- Worlds fastest growing social network.
The main appeal (and thus the importance) of Snapchat is about ephemeral messaging, and the desire to leave less digital tracks, with teenagers having watched the social over-sharing of the generation that came before them.
The app that allows users to send a photo that will disappear “forever” after 10 seconds. The problem is that it’s easy to take a screenshot, which makes that statement ridiculously untrue.
With this new wave of ephemeral messaging rising to prominence it is crucial now more than ever that teens are being educated in the dangers of sexting and inappropriate messaging. The 'self-destructing' style messaging can lead people into a false sense of security.
- 79% of Tinder users are millennials
- 50 million users
- 10 million daily active users
- 1.4 billion Tinder 'swipes' a day
- 7% users are aged 13-17
Online dating has been a pretty active scene since the very early days of the internet. Sites like Match.com and eHarmony have been using the magic of modern technology for years to match up singles, but the game was taken to a whole new level with the advent of the mobile app.
Tinder has revolutionised the dating world.
Many people don't know that you only have to be 13 to sign up to Tinder!!!
When 13-17 year olds sign up to Tinder they are only allowed to search and be seen by other 13-17 year olds. However it's worth keeping an eye out to see if your child uses Tinder.
13 years old is very early to be introduced to a dating app.
Tips for monitoring children's social media use
It's very likely that your children will know more about social media than you do. So how do you monitor your children's social media use without invading their privacy?
1. Ask and discuss: The best approach to discussing social media with your child is to open up a line of communication with them without judgment or consequences. Ask them about how they use social media, what they like, what they dislike, and what they use it for. If they’re willing to share, it’s important to keep an open mind and not overreact or to let anxiety take over when they respond. If you want them to feel comfortable sharing with you, there has to be mutual respect and some room to experiment and grow.
2. Consider the benefits: Communicating on social media is how this generation makes friends, deals with problems, finds jobs, and learns about what’s going on in the world. There are limits to what should be experienced behind a screen and what should be done without the aid of technology, but there’s no better way to stay informed and communicate with others in an instant than through social media.
When teaching them, we need to focus on proper use and what’s appropriate and inappropriate. Teach them how to use social media effectively and educate yourself on how best to assist them. Encourage safe behaviours and habits, so they will be able to enjoy learning and sharing on social media, and make the communities they participate in a positive and enjoyable place for others.
3. Learn about the network: After learning about the sites and apps that they use, do your own research. Check the app or network’s about page, reviews, FAQ’s, and consider contacting them if you have unanswered questions.
4. No need for spyware: If you Google 'monitoring your children on social media', you will see results appear with fancy, expensive, spyware. All we can do is educate children to our best ability. We tell children that stealing is bad. We don't follow them around shops making sure they don't steal. We have to hope they understand what is right and what is wrong through what we have taught them.
Social media is NOT scary, nor is it bad. What scares people the most is that they don't understand it.
By understanding it, we give ourselves the deep understanding to give the best advice for our children.
We would love to hear any thought or comments your have below about staying safe on social media!