Des Moines, IA

Preparing Your Kids for Social Media

We talk a lot about bullying in the gym, such as how to handle a bully, how to get help, and other tips. What happens when the bully is online? Raising children in a digital world comes with a lot of questions. When is it appropriate to let my kids use social media? How do they handle online bullying, and more.

From Facebook and Instagram to Snapchat and YouTube, online social interactions is not a question of “if”, but “when”. Exposure is inevitable, especially for our children who have grown up in a digital world since a young age.

Most websites and online platforms who are for children or the general audience, including social media platforms, follow the Federal Trade Commission’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. This prevents companies from collecting specific information about children under the age of 13.

While websites are restricted to certain requirements, it’s still our duty as parents to determine when is the best time to introduce these platforms to our children, and which ones are appropriate for them.

When are children ready?

1. Are they emotionally mature?

2. Do you have a strong and open relationship with your child? In other words, will they seek your help or hide something from you?

3. Do they understand the importance of online security and the risks?

4. Are they able to identify right from wrong?

5. Do they know what cyber bullying is?

6. Do they know what is/is not appropriate information to share online?

While your child(ren) may not be allowed to have their own login to many websites and social channels until they are 13, that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t interact or learn about these before that age.

There is no magic number to when you should introduce them to the digital world as their own individual with their own profiles. What is important is that they are fully prepared for when that day comes. Avoiding or discouraging these online interactions may encourage them to engage without your knowledge.

How do you prepare kids for social media?

Young girl on tablet looking at social networking site1. Show them your profiles and security settings and explain to them what and why it’s important. Passwords, personal information, etc. should all be included and emphasize the importance of keeping that private.

2. Explain what cyber bullying is and what it may look like. Apart from understanding it, teach them what they should do if they should be a victim. Who to reach out to and who to report it to.

3. Explain what content and context mean. Having an online discussion can be much different than in-person and can easily be misread or misunderstood. It’s important to teach your kids context and also not getting involved with negative posts and content.

4. Set the stage for what is considered inappropriate and appropriate. Write it out and keep it in a visible place for your kids to see. Make sure there are consequences for any inappropriate posting.

5. Keep dialogue open. When it is time for them to start using social media, you want to be a resource for them, someone they can turn to.

6. Monitor. Once they are using social media, make it a requirement that you are their friend and monitor their sites weekly. Don’t stalk and don’t comment on every post, but be aware and have offline conversations about things they may need more guidance on.

Social media is a part of our lifestyles. Helping our kids understand what they share and how they share it is vital. If you’re a parent and still hesitant (or overwhelmed) with the prospect of your child on multiple social media sites, consider using an app like Visr to help monitor and the app from Google called Family Link.

Farrells Martial Arts Kicker LogoTKD Tip: While we tend to hear about all the negativity surrounding social media and the scary things that could happen, help your child focus on the positive that can come with it. Maybe it’s creating awareness for a charitable organization they are apart of. Or maybe it’s helping them create a YouTube channel to share their talents on.


Location Info

Beaverdale School         Waukee School
2706 Beaver Ave.            215 N. Warrior Lane
Des Moines, IA 50310       Waukee, IA 50263
515-255-0095                  515-978-3000