Parents nowadays are facing a big challenge: to encourage or discourage their kids from using social media. Why not allow them but limit their access?
This year, the challenge of keeping kids safe online will reach new heights. People are also starting to open conversations whether social media has more pros than cons for society.
The latest slew of questions on social media usage comes after the launch of the Facebook Messenger for Kids. With parental controls, the app allows kids 13 years and under to send and receive messages safely or video chat with family and friends.
A few days later, the social network posted an article titled ‘Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us?’ It cited several studies and raised concerns on the potential effect of heavy social media use.
Facebook Research head David Ginsberg wrote,
As parents, each of us worries about our kids’ screen time and what “connection” will mean in 15 years. We also worry about spending too much time on our phones when we should be paying attention to our families.
The backwash pushed the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to send an open letter. With more than 100 child development experts, the group is urging Facebook to shutter Messenger for Kids. They warned that the app is harmful and undermine a healthy child development.
Safer Internet Day
Facebook has been facing several challenges, largely due to misuse and abuse of its platform. To address questions, the social network posted on Safer Internet Day an article titled “Teaching Children to Safely Engage Online and Supporting Parent Conversations.”
Educating the risks to parents, the article offers a set of tips for parents to keep their kids safe online. Facebook also added a new Parents Portal section where we can see updates from academics, child development experts and thought leaders on topics related to kids and technology.
Facebook global safety head Antigone Davis offers these parenting tips:
- Let your child know the same rules apply online as they do offline.
- Be a good role model.
- Engage early and often.
- Set the rules and know the tools.
- Ask your children to teach you.
Facebook recently conducted a study with a sample of 275 US parents of 6th – 12th graders and 604 children aged 8-17. They found that:
- 64 percent of parents wanted to guide their child’s technology use personally.
- 77 percent of parents said they are the best candidate to limit their child’s time in using online technologies.
- 77 percent of parents said they know best when their child can start using online digital technologies.
Social media is pervasive. As a parent, you know how hard it can be to uphold your kids safe online. Yet, these social platforms also allow them to stay connected with family and friends. And it even builds their social skills with their peer group.
Facebook cannot address all our questions. But their new guide reminds us that we still have the upper hand. How our children use social media depends on how much we allow them to do.