November 1st, 2021 by GSC Customer Care

SM Tips for Parents

Parenting has always been challenging. However, a majority of U.S. parents with at least one child under the age of 18 told the Pew Research Center in 2020 that parenting is harder today than it was 20 years ago, with many citing technology—including social media—as a reason why.

At what age can children begin using social media? What are the potential risks? We’ll explore these and other topics to help parents make the right decisions for their family.

Minimum Age on Social Platforms
Virtually all social media sites and apps have minimum age requirements in order to help protect children from technologies and communities that are not appropriate for them. Here are the requirements for some of the most popular platforms:

  • Facebook and Instagram – Both require users to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account. However, Common Sense—a leading source of entertainment and technology recommendations for families and schools—rates Instagram for age 15 and up because of
    mature content, access to strangers, marketing ploys, and data collection.
  • Snapchat – Snapchat, which allows people to post videos and photos for 10 seconds before they disappear, says the minimum age for users is 13 years old. However, it’s incredibly easy for a child to circumvent the SnapChat age limit by using a fake date of birth.
  • TikTok – The Terms of Service state that users must be at least 13 years old to sign up for an account and have full access to the platform.
  • Twitter – The platform says you must be at least 13 years old to use its services.
  • WhatsApp – The minimum age for this mobile phone messaging app is 16.
  • YouTube – Account holders are required to be 18 or over, but it will allow a child
    as young as 13 to sign up with their parent’s permission.

When your child starts using any social media platform, make sure you help them with the privacy settings. Also, remind them to always think before they post, so they won’t say something they’ll regret later.

Be Aware of the Risks
While social media can provide wonderful opportunities for young people to connect with friends and express themselves through photos and videos, there are also potential risks. Some social networks use technologies that may not be right for younger children or allow them to engage with communities made up of much older people.

For safety’s sake, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Many sites include an instant message function that allows private conversations between site members.
  • Information shared between friends can be easily copied and spread quickly online. It isn’t easy to take back information after it’s been posted, and it can be impossible if it’s already been shared.
  • Not everyone your child meets online will be who they say they are. Chat rooms and forums can connect people who are complete strangers and can be unmoderated. These are also some of the places online groomers go to connect with children, so make sure your child understands these dangers and stays away from these spaces.

Keep Talking and Stay Connected
Online security experts recommend that parents maintain open conversations with their children about the social media accounts they use and the potential risks involved with them. They also suggest
following your children on social media, but don’t be too invasive. Keep a minimalistic presence by only commenting occasionally, since teens want to have privacy and avoid embarrassment among
their peers.

You also need to trust your child. As much as you want to protect them, sometimes the best thing you can do is educate them fully on the potential dangers of social media and then take a step back.