Social Media for Kids: Benefits and Risks that parents need to know to feel safe

We live in a society that is increasingly connected to the Internet context, technologies invade the lives of each of us, our habits and behaviors are linked to the use of personal technological devices.

After the widespread and great spread of social networking websites, and their transformation into an essential part of everyone’s life, children all over the world began to use them and experts classify them as a double-edged sword, despite their use in the educational field and benefiting from them in various aspects of life, but they are one of the technological sites that caused In many psychological damages to its users, especially children and adolescents.

Social media platforms and features are constantly evolving, therefore, it is a good idea to keep up to date with the social media used by your child. You could ask your child (to know what they use, and to talk about it) which platforms are popular and which ones your child like.

The question that seems to interest parents the most is: how can children, children, kids be protected from the risks and dangers that the network – a mysterious and unknown entity that is frightening.

Social media

Difference between social media and social networks

Social media often tends to coincide with social networks. In reality, social networks are a component of social media. Social media are the channels that allow you to share information. Social networks, on the other hand, are the platforms that welcome online communities, “the expression social network identifies an online computer service that allows the creation of virtual social networks”. In order for a social medium to be defined as a social network, it must therefore:

  • have specific users with a private profile to access the network
  • allow registered persons to come into contact with each other
  • be based on an interactive type of communication
Social Media for Kids

How social Media affects our Children

Every coin has two sides, it’s something that we cannot deny, and it’s applied to almost everything in life, and when it comes to social media networks, parents always hear stories about how dangerous it is for their kids and can have negative effects on them but the networking tools can be beneficial in helping kids to learn, make friends, exchange ideas and information, and achieve goals.

It depends on the user’s purpose and goal of using these tools, we will mention Here what are the positive and negative effects of social networking tools and how to avoid our kids from such effects.

Positive Effects

Coping with the Future

Undoubtedly that the future is digital, this new digital world needs a good communication with it and professional participation in order to be on track, so what social media offers to kids in younger age will enrich their knowledge with what they need to deal with in the future.

More Sympathy

Sharing thoughts and experiences, posting about personal ordeals and suffering physically or physiologically, with such exposure, most of us can empathetic and therefore kids who can be more sensitive and have hearts full of compassion and mercy compared to adults.

It also helps in raising their awareness for specific causes that they would like to participate in to have a real change.

And Passing through this kind of experience can also improve their positive attitude toward their community and the eager to change will drive them to be positive members in their own society. 

Possibility of seeking support

Children and teenager sometimes can’t seek help from their parents or friends for many reasons, but now the social networks offer the support by giving them the space to speak up about any issue and seeking help from specialists or specialized groups in dealing with that issue.

Negative Effects

The Excessive Use

With their sensitive personality, lack of awareness and great willingness to be affected by the simplest surrounding circumstances, children and adolescents in today’s world suffer on all levels, socially, mentally, physically and emotionally.

Today’s social media celebs control the identity, values ​​and health of an entire generation. This affects their mental health more than anything else.

Sources indicate that the number of cases of children and adolescents suffering from mental and psychological illnesses exceeds any other time in history. Suicide and depression rates have skyrocketed since 2011, with one in eight children experiencing mental health problems at some point in their lives.

Among the most prominent damages caused by the negative use of social networking websites on children and adolescents are:

The formation of the child’s identity

One of the biggest challenges that teens face is self-discovery and character development, as their own identity gives them a sense of stability and poise over time.

Previously, teenagers used to go out with friends and start emotional adventures, make mistakes, and discover themselves, but today, teenagers rarely do any of the above. They prefer to stay in their rooms, to acquire the identity that social networking websites paint for them. Who you are, what you should wear, what you should shop, and who you are all factors related to the number of likes they will get.

It is a generation that is more concerned with the shape of its image when it is shared with others than with discovering the truth of that image.

Psychological problems such as depression

During the last five years, multiple studies have appeared on the impact of the multiple use of social media on the psychological health of the child,

And these studies have shown that one out of every twenty children is exposed to psychological problems such as anxiety, stress and depression as a result of using social media continuously during the day, and these studies showed that the child.

The studies showed that that the child needs to be exposed to social media for a less time than adults, because it is easy to be affected by all the events that may happen to him,

and some doctors warn against lack of family supervision on the child while using the phone or computer, the child may be exposed to psychological trauma as a result of seeing manifestations of violence.

Sleep problems and insomnia

Researchers have found that using phone lights at night affects the body’s production of the hormone melatonin, which helps sleeping.

Neurologist and American researcher Matthew Walker says that using social media right before bed greatly affects your ability to fall asleep, as the blue light on phone or tablet screens may affect brain secretions that help our bodies fall asleep,

He warned of the sleep disorders in the child, as he has concluded, through his studies over twenty years, that sleep is the most influential event on the child’s creative abilities and the development of his motor abilities.

Doctor Matthew Walker wrote in his book, Why Do We Sleep, that the eye’s exposure to the blue light on the screens of smart devices affects the quality of the hours of sleep that we are supposed to get,

and it has been clarified that when there is a defect in the hours of sleep or fixed appointments that are supposed to happen, this affects the development of one’s motor skills and creative skills, which develop during the hours of his sleep each day.

So if you go to bed at night browsing Facebook and Twitter, you may be in for a restless sleep.

Cyber bullying

Many young children are subjected to bullying on social media, as it is considered an open arena for comments and criticism, but for a young child, he is not yet ready to receive this amount of comments and criticism from others,

Such criticism exposes him to major problems in self-confidence and in dealing with his being as a person, as adults, they have experience dealing with others over the years, but the child needs real experiences before he can be exposed to a large number of people outside the family and school.

Child’s relationship with others

Social media affects children’s relationships with others, as the child, between two and 15 years old, needs to develop his social skills in communicating with others by communicating with direct speech, body movements and eye looks, which later help him in communicating successfully with others, But social media deprives children of the experience of obtaining real physical communication, which reduces the child’s ability to express verbally or understand and meditate on the feelings of others, and this creates a problem that is difficult to overcome when he grows up.

Self-esteem

According to certain sources, social networking sites contribute to making more than half of its users unhappy with their looks, especially those aged 18-34 years. These sites make them feel unattractive.

At what age can social networks be accessed?

The age at which children approach technological tools decreases from year to year.

Yet, up to the age of 8/9 it is good to always privilege play and direct contact with other children, avoiding the virtual. There is no data that can reassure the use of social media by children. Indeed: according to some studies it can increase the probability that in the future they develop discomfort and depression.

From 10/11 years you can begin to indulge the desire to use social media, accompanying the child, talking about it together. The ban is never useful, attention is.

The minimum limit for access to social media is 13 years, but there is no way to verify that it is respected: the platforms can do little, the control is in the hands of the parents “.

When it is time to intervene

We know very well that children are the best imitators of adults.

If we swear, sooner or later they will repeat them. If we spread serenity and calm, they will be peaceful and joyful. And if we use social media, sooner or later they will want to use social media.

To recognize the danger of social networks is the same Randi Zuckerberg, sister of the famous creator of Facebook. She recently wrote a book “Dot”, a story in which a brave little girl, Dot, obsessed with electronic devices and digital life, will be able to free herself from the shackles of technology, rediscovering the joy of life in the open air.

She was inspired by her two-year-old son who already lives immersed in technology: “One app replaced the lullaby, another entertained him at the restaurant or when I was struggling with a tablet. It had become a family nightmare”.

Best social networks for children

More than three-quarters of younger children aged 10 to 12 use at least one social media network, according to a BBC survey.

If your child wants to start posting, sharing or even tweeting but you don’t think they’re ready for Facebook or Instagram, there are a few other social networks for kids that you can refer to and let them start with.

These include kid-friendly elements such as games and contests, as well as the ability to utilize them as a teaching tool and share them safely.

Finally, these social media platforms provide a safer setting for children to share their experiences and communicate with others.

Social networks are a very important part of the daily life of teenagers. Many of them, in fact, devote most of their day to social media and tend to favor popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Too bad that the aforementioned social networks are not at all suitable for young users under the age of 13: this is why you should definitely keep your child away from them. Thankfully, technology can help parents of socially addicted kids who want to keep in touch with their little friends.

And it is safety and privacy that parents must be careful of when their children use the web. The Internet can have many dangers, which is why we have explained to you how cybercriminals operate and how to talk to your children about online safety.

So, you should also take a look at the best social networks for children that we have selected for you: these sites are safe and designed to be used only by children under the age of 13.

However, there is also a range of applications designed specifically for minors, with a view to minimizing the risks they may incur through generic and uncontrolled navigation.

Here is a list of social network platforms that suits children according to their age.

Kidzworld

If we are looking for a social network specifically for children so that they can make friends online, learn how to use networks correctly but also allow them to write their own posts, KizWorld will definitely love it.

This social network is for children between 6 and 12 years’ old who want to have fun for a while like adults who meet more friends, chat photos and much more.

This community offers the opportunity for children up to 17 years of age to register and share content about their favorite music, video games, among others. It has a chat and a forum to interact with others. Of course, the published content is supervised by the site managers.

Spotlite

Spotlite focuses on the importance of creating a safer social experience for children, adolescents and pre-adolescents. Kids can share videos, pictures, react and comment on friends’ posts, and join groups to share similar interests.

The main objective of the app is to teach children the etiquette of online interaction with constant reminders that encourage positive and respectful comments from other users.

Security features

  • To open a new account, a parent or guardian must provide authentication and approval of the e-mail. It is not possible to add friends until a parent approves the account.
  • Spotlite does not track or sell any of your child’s personal information such as their location.
  • Parents must approve the use of Spotlite if for children under the age of 13.
  • Shared videos and images can only be viewed by friends.
  • Content moderators are at work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Any inappropriate content or user will be banned.

PlayKids Talk

PlayKids is an internationally renowned platform with cartoons, books and activities for children aged 2 to 8. With the PlayKids Talk app, children can access activities, games and content such as, for example, videos. Parents can manage children’s contacts, authorize access to the camera and microphone.

Security features

  • To set up the child’s account, parents must verify her age.
  • Parents can control all aspects of the child’s account such as contacts and profile.
  • The parent also has access to the account on their smartphone in order to always keep an eye on what is being shared in real time

Download PlayKids Talk for Android and iOS.

GoBubble

GoBubble, the school friend’s social media platform, It’s created for children to chat and share whatever they want from images to videos, all of that takes place with the school permission as the teachers are monitoring them.

If we think about it, we will find that it will prevent the child from cyberbullying and unwanted friend requests.

Posts and comments will be moderated by system’s safety features ensuring that no Inappropriate content (images, videos or text) before going live.

It is created for the age of 7.

Grom Social

If you have had to disable your child’s Facebook account because it is still too small to use it, then they will be happy to use this alternative solution. GromSocial is the social network for younger children: it is recommended for ages 4 and up.

After all, it was created by Zach who, at just 11, had the idea of ​​creating a password-protected network where children can chat, share videos and receive help with their homework.

GromSocial is monitored live, 24/7, and can only be viewed by those adults who have been approved as a user’s parents. In addition, mothers and fathers will receive regular e-mails detailing their children’s online activity.

Security features

  • The app has filters to remove any type of inappropriate and offensive language.
  • To open a new account, the app requires the parent to verify the email.
  • Kids can use Grom TV to stream safe and curated video content.
  • Parents can monitor a child’s activity with the complementary MamaBear app.

Download GromSocial for Android and iOS.

PopJam

PopJam is a platform / app aimed primarily at children under the age of 13, especially 7 to 12 years old.
On PopJam, young users can create their own content, follow other users and even play games.

Since the app is aimed exclusively at children, the security levels of this app are truly formidable. In particular, young users cannot communicate using private chats, nor can they upload photos that can reveal personally identifiable information, their faces or the faces of their friends without disguising them using stickers or drawings.

The time to publish on the app is also limited: from 6:00 to 23:00, so that children can sleep peacefully.

PopJam employs moderators who curate and moderate the available content. The app also uses monitoring software and collaborates with multiple organizations that promote children’s online safety and law enforcement.

Security features:

  • Dedicated moderators monitor PopJam 24 hours a day and are active members of the community.
  • Messages can only be sent to another user if they are following each other.
  • Children under 13 need the permission of a parent or guardian to use PopJam.
  • All posts are tracked.

    You can report inappropriate content and unfollow them easily.

Download PopJam for Android and iOS.

Messenger Kids

Another option to consider is the official Facebook application, in this case aimed primarily at the smallest of the house. We already know how Messenger, the messaging application of this platform, works. In this case, this app developed especially for children keeps some similarities.

Through Messenger Kids our children can chat, send photos, GIFs or make video calls. Of course, everything will be monitored by parents to ensure their safety and ours.

Messenger Kids is aimed at children under the age of 12. To access it, they must create an account that will be linked to the Facebook of an adult, who should be one of the parents for added protection, as well as to view and view the content they will see.

Only the adult’s friends can send a request to the child, from their own account or from the linked account of their children.

One of the disadvantages of Messenger Kids is that the content is sent and therefore parents can see it, something that does not fully guarantee that it will be used correctly, so it is advisable to guide them regarding the correct use of that social network.

It should be clarified that unlike its conventional version, Facebook ensures that it does not share Messenger Kids information with third parties. This is certainly a relief for parents who do not want to expose their children to such circumstances.

YouTube Kids

In 2015, Google launched YouTube Kids, a version of YouTube aimed at children between the ages of 3 and 8, which limits content to family-themed videos, educational channels and clips, also made by partners such as National Geographic Kids or DreamWorks TV.

The website is divided into four sections – Shows, Music, Learning and Explore -, has a timer to limit its use and a search bar that accesses the main YouTube database, filtered based on safe content.

Parents can intervene by configuring some features as desired, including the volume. Advertising, however, is equally present.

Also on the platform it is possible to set a time limit to control viewing times and the contents are filtered to ensure the safety of young viewers as much as possible.

However, it is clear that the presence of a parent is always recommended because in an environment such as the internet, security is never fully guaranteed.

Kiddle

Kiddle, launched in 2016, is “the Google of children” (but it is not a Google product, the author is unknown): it is a search engine that uses a Google parameter that avoids explicit content, placing at the top of the list of results the pages from sites designed specifically for children, and then gradually leave space for sites that are always safe and simple. It is not free from flaws and risks, so even in this case it is good to monitor.

Family Link

Family Link is not a social network, but a program that allows you to connect your child’s device to your own, in order to monitor the sites visited, the time spent and purchases on the Play Store.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO

So how can parents intervene to protect children from the risks of the network and, in particular, of social networks?

1. Be careful what you post

When children are small, it is good to be very careful about what you publish and how you do it.

Never geolocate photos: Never give precise information on the place where the photo was taken, it is better to create fictitious places, also avoid photographs in contexts that are too recognizable, for example in front of your house, their school, or a particular street.

Never publish the faces of children: You have to be careful to hide the child’s features. Avoid   any details of the child. Or, you can use the classic sticker to be applied over the face.

Never make your photos public: make sure that the photos of your children are not, only your friends can see them. The extra step is to create a personalized album that can only be seen by a small group of people.

2. Regulate the use of the network

the age of 11 it is best not to leave children alone with digital devices. From 12 to 16 years you need to know what their online habits are: which sites they frequent, which apps they have downloaded, which sites they are subscribed to, and which activities they spend the most time on.

If parents have managed to do a good job of digital education for their children, then they will have no problem managing what will happen after the age of 17, when controlling what they do online will be more difficult.

3. Control when it’s needed

And a good digital education is achieved by supporting and supervising children in their first online experiences. «Many – reads the book – use smartphones at night, to chat, stay on social networks or watch videos without their parents being aware of it. Greater control over the amount of time the device is used should not be considered a limit to children’s freedom, but an aid in the complicated management of a powerful, inviting and comfortable tool ».

Although the control of a child’s interactions on social media is never to be considered a good educational method, “if you were to observe a slightly different behavior from the usual on the part of the child, the fact of accessing the contents of social networks can serve to avoid possible situations of cyberbullying and provide an opportunity to address some topics “.

5. Give the kids the right tools

The web is now full of services and websites built especially for the little ones: YouTube, for example, offers YouTube Kids, while Lego has just opened a social network dedicated to children, Lego Life, risk-free.

In case there are bullying and cyberbullying problems, then, you can consult the dedicated Facebook platform together.

The correct use of social networks starts with the parents

Sharenting

A change also for them who are often little aware of the consequences of their behavior on the internet. An example among all is Sharenting, that is “the abuse of social networks by parents to discuss the lives and needs of their children, often very small”.

In addition, once uploaded to Facebook, the images also become the property of the social network which may decide to keep them even if the owners decide to delete them.

Then there is a problem that concerns the future of children: “once they grow up and grapple with their own social network, perhaps on those or other platforms, they will find themselves endowed with a burden of digital content improperly published over the years by their parents . Without, of course, that the most important subject of the relationship – the child – had any chance to say something about her. “

The term sharenting refers to the compulsive sharing of content on children by parents, without the consent of the children.

“Putting information about one’s children online is a problem when it becomes the only message a parent goes to convey on social networks.

Showing children that there is a difference between private and public life is the first step for proper education in the use of social media.

Making it clear that there are levels of privacy to be activated, that there is a difference between my being a man and my being a father, are all messages that are transmitted to children through a thoughtful use of social media: if we let ourselves be carried away and we share everything we are giving a completely different message. Furthermore, there are the risks associated with the dissemination of images, which we do not know where they can go: once they are online they are in the public domain, it is good to know.

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