Internet safety for kids has always been a concern for parents, but social media is everchanging and more accessible than ever. While social media can be a source of entertainment and safe connection with peers, it also presents serious dangers.
As younger and younger children use social media, it’s important to monitor and implement social media safety measures for your kids.
The Risk of Social Media for Children
There’s a lot of kid-friendly content on the internet, but there’s also a lot of inappropriate content. Of course, there’s the risk that young kids will be exposed to excessive swearing, violence, and sexual images. However, one of the biggest risks is sexual grooming.
When kids see and/or post sexual content on social media, it makes them susceptible to grooming. Groomers are perpetrators who build into their abuse. They may start by trying to build friendships with kids online, and they may disclose their identity/age, disguising themselves as a peer. In the modern digital age, it’s very easy to use someone else’s images and videos to create a deceptive persona. Grooming can lead to sexual abuse online or even an attempt to meet your child in person.
Grooming is possible on any online platform, including all social media platforms. Right now, TikTok is one of the most popular social media apps kids use. Here are some pointers for TikTok safety:
- Discuss internet safety with your child, including what’s appropriate for them and how to react to any inappropriate content (blocking/reporting, sharing it with you).
- Ensure your child’s TikTok is private, so only accepted followers can see their content. Work with them to only add people you know personally.
- Create an account and follow your child. Even if you don’t like to use TikTok for yourself, creating an account is a good way to monitor what they post.
- Use parental controls. You can set time limits, disable direct messaging, and filter mature content on TikTok. Use a secure password for parental controls.
- Make videos with your child. Join in and help your kid use TikTok. This is a great way to connect, show your support, and build trust.
The risks social media carries are serious and worrisome, but it can still be a safe place for kids. The key is to discuss internet safety and set boundaries upfront so that you can equip your child to make smart decisions online.