My 11 year old daughter has no social media yet. She does have a phone and can text her friends and that is monitored with Bark. We would like to hold off on social media until 8th grade like we did with our son. I’m already feeling like it’s harder to hold a girl off because it seems to mean more to them. My question is…which social media app do you think is the “least” worrisome? Which one would you allow them to have first…to dip their toes in? I do believe that there are risks with all of them and I would certainly only choose one that is monitored by Bark…but which would you allow first?
Hi! Oh goodness, this is a tough one. My guys are 13 and nearly 11 (soon). They don’t have SM yet really, not counting only watching YouTube. My oldest actually DOESN’T even want it; he just isn’t into that! He’s really active and says he wants to avoid the silly drama of SM that he sees his classmates getting wrapped up in and in trouble for. My younger one isn’t really interested yet either (I’m not complaining)!
I have to honestly say, I don’t know that there is one that is safer than the others. They all have private messaging. None really have parental controls. Many have disappearing messages. About the best you can do is make their profile and content private and also turn off location services.
I think making that choice depends on what their purpose for getting it is. Is it to message friends? Share photos? Make silly music videos? Obviously, you’re not going to be making music videos with Facebook. That would be more along the lines of TikTok and the like.
I think also it’s imperative to understand that you can (and should!) have important talks about safety, strangers, appropriate posting / commenting, etc. And also, no matter how well behaved your child may be with it, you can’t stop strangers (or even their classmates) from messaging them, and more importantly even if your child doesn’t go looking for bad stuff they can still stumble upon it. Even Twitter and Pinterest have porn, self harm, drugs, etc. Even if your child doesn’t search for it, it may be “suggested” in their feed or they may stumble across it. I think prepping them for that scenario and what to do (how to unfollow, dislike, or “see less like this in your newsfeed” are all good ideas.
Also noteworthy: most social medias technically require users to be age 13 and up. That’s your choice, of course, but if you need to use that, it could definitely be honest to say, “I’m sorry, but ___ doesn’t allow 11 y/o to sign up. We’ll need to wait until you’re 13”. So maybe you aren’t the “bad guy”? I know, she’ll say, “But so-n-so has it!” but that’s when I explain to mine, “Well, I’m not so-n-so’s mom. I’m yours and we do it this way”. Just in case you need a backup reason as to why she needs to wait.
But I digress. I’m sort of in your boat. Not that mine were asking for SM, but it was sort of my idea. My sons like to follow their interests and hobbies on YouTube (because that’s kind of the only medium that they really can right now, besides just a google search). So I actually suggested creating an Instagram account for my oldest. I’m quite familiar with IG, and (important to note here) our “need” for it wouldn’t be to post selfies and chat with friends, but for my son to view his fav hobbies, teams, and athletes. My idea was to create him an account, have it logged in on my phone also, and at first view it with him and guide him. At first, he would only view his newsfeed until we move past that. He wouldn’t be commenting, liking, or following random people. Sounds innocent enough, right? I figured I’d teach him to stay OUT of the messages, and by having it logged in on my phone as well I could keep an eye. Here’s my story on creating him an Instagram:
That was a few weeks ago. He’s only since used it in my presence, and I sit next to him (it’s sort of our bonding time). It’s going well with him only viewing his interests. However, he’s had a few random Follow requests which I declined, and he’s also gotten an inbox full of porn bot messages.
We are starting very SLOW. I definitely would not personally allow SnapChat, for the reasons: the Discover section is completely inappropriate, the disappearing messages, and you cannot be logged into more than 1 device- so I couldn’t be logged into SC on my phone as well. That’s a big no for me, personally.
I haven’t messed with TikTok really, but I haven’t heard good things so that’s a no for us as well. I think I’d try another music video app if that’s the interest. I used DubSmash, FlipaGram, and a few others before that I’d explore before trying TikTok. Need to research those…
Anyway. I know that was a lot of rambling (haha) but we are dipping our toes into a heavily monitored / parent shared Instagram to start.