9 Ways to Make Social Media Safer for Children

As parents, our two top priorities are to keep our children safe and to provide as many opportunities as possible for them to make the most of their lives.

However, we also know that it can be challenging to do both at once; allowing our children to experience life often comes at the cost of having to expose them to dangers and threats from which they were previously sheltered.

Of course, trying to keep children from the world certainly won’t work, and is neither practical nor responsible parenting. It’s much better to provide them with guidance and equip them with knowledge so that they can navigate this crazy, exciting world in a safe and meaningful way.

There is perhaps no better example of the challenge in finding this balance than social media. Both a rich resource and a hotbed for fraud or worse, it’s essential that we do everything we can to make social media – which is not inherently dangerous – safer and more constructive for kids to use.

The Perks of Social Media for Children

At first glance, some people are quick to say, “children don’t belong on social media.” And while there is some merit to this argument, it’s simply not practical to take this approach. Recent research from Pew found that 95 percent of kids – particularly teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 – have access to the internet, with just over 50 percent of respondents saying they are “constantly” online.

It doesn’t help that most social media platforms only require you to be 13 (Facebook) or 16 (Snapchat) to join, meaning you’re fighting an uphill battle to keep them from these platforms.

Plus, when used properly, social media can provide significant benefits to your children, such as:

These benefits, along with the inevitability of your child’s social media use, advocate that we should be realistic and embrace that kids are going to use social media. This perspective will allow us to develop more proactive and effective methods of keeping them safe.

The Dangers of Social Media to Children

Of course, all of these positive aspects of social media do not remove the genuine dangers these platforms can expose our children to when they use them. Some of the most common threats kids face are: