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Is Your Child Ready for Social Networking?

Millions of people around the world use social networking sites and tools. Many children want to follow suit! But, does that mean that any or all elementary school-aged children are ready to take on using such sites as Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace? The answer to that depends on a variety of factors that only you, as a parent, can assess.

Analyzing the Issue

It is important to note that most social media outlets typically require that users are at least 13 years old. Children of elementary-school age category do not meet usage terms of these internet sites. Standard age requirements are set by social media sites to prevent young kids from being exposed to dangers they are not prepared to handle. When considering allowing your child to subscribe to social media, consider these tips:

Lay down some strict rules about safety (e.g., not giving out personal information). Let your child know exactly what you expect of her and what the consequences would be if the rules are broken.

  • Explain the dangers of cyber bullying to your child and how to handle it if it happens to her.
  • Help your child set up and use her social media account(s). At this age, she may not understand how these sites work or how to protect herself while using them. Monitor what your child does so that you know when she is using social media, with whom she is interacting, what she is posting, etc.
  • Consider making social media time a reward that your child has to earn. You can set up a reward chart for her good behavior.
  • Set a good example when it comes to using social media. If your child sees you using it in a good way, she will be more likely to do the same.
  • Make having your child’s password a rule. Additionally, require that you are added to her accounts as “friend” or “follower” so you can monitor her activity.
  • Do not embarrass your child my making a personal post on her wall. As good as your intensions are, you child may not appreciate it. Be an observer and not a participant.
  • Bridging Gaps

    Using social media can result in both good and bad experiences.. For example, if your child's grandparents live far away, using Skype or chatting on Facebook may be a great way to help bridge the distance. With consistent monitoring and strict rules, your child should have a fun and safe social media experience.