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This is a sponsored post by Verizon Wireless. All opinions are my own.
Do you allow your children to have social media accounts? At what age did you allow them to get on social media?
These are questions we asked ourselves when our daughters were young. At first, we were very much against screen time and social media for kids.
However, as we’ve watched the world evolve and grow into a place that relies on technology for everything, we decided it was time to re-evaluate. Social media isn’t going anywhere, so we decided it was best to teach our daughters to use social media responsibly.
The World is Changing
Technology has made our world so much smaller and made so many things possible. We feel shielding our daughters from technology would be detrimental to their futures.
I see more and more of our lives moving online, and I want my daughters exposed to that. They both have cell phones they can use with a WiFi connection (no phone for them numbers just yet) and they have shared social media accounts.
Both of them currently want to be professional snowboarders. We have explained to them that in order for that to happen, they need to have a social media presence if they want to make a living.
They’re planning for their future, and that’s something that social media is offering kids today that wasn’t available when I was a kid. They can literally come out of high school with a fully functioning business. It’s pretty amazing.
However, you have to be very careful when giving your kids access to the internet and social media. Things can go very, very wrong if your kids don’t know how to keep themselves safe.
How Do We Keep Our Kids Safe Online?
We very closely monitor their accounts. We make sure we’re comfortable with what they’re posting. We regularly go through their followers and weed out anyone unsavory. We also make sure they’re only following appropriate accounts.
Both of their accounts are also logged into from our phones that we get notifications when they get messages and comments so we can screen them. They both know what is and what is not allowed.
And we talk a lot about internet safety. We talk to them about how to keep themselves safe. And we have a strict policy of no answering messages from anyone they don’t know.
Aren’t They Too Young for Social Media?
Some people think they’re too young, and that’s okay. I would much rather teach my daughters how to stay safe on social media when they’re young and still listen.
If you wait until the teenage years to start talking about online safety, it might be too late. Teens can be rebellious and sneaky and make bad choices. The best way to curb some of those bad choices is to be heavily involved very early on.
I was surprised to discover that last year only 61% of parents checked which websites their teen visited, according to he Pew Research Center. I know a lot of people are afraid to invade the privacy of their teens, but there can be balance.
Our girls know that we check their accounts. We set that precedent from day one, so they will always know that they need to make good decisions online or we will find out about it.
Tools to Help Keep Your Kids Safe Online
Since we work online, we have a lot more knowledge about what goes on across the internet than many of the other parents we know. If you’re not as savvy online, there are tools that can help you keep better tabs on your teen’s online activity.
Verizon Wireless offers a variety of these tools that can help parents like you balance trust and safety. Their tracking programs and apps can help you limit your teen’s online activity and better monitor what they’re doing.
You can read about their programs in The Parents’ Guide to Kids and Tech from Verizon Wireless. I appreciate that they took the time to put together a guide to help educate parents
I really like the Gizmo watches they have for kids. One of our daughters’ friends has one that she wears when she’s out snowboarding. We’re looking into getting something similar for our kids at some point.
Her mom showed me the app for the watch on her phone. She can see where her daughter is on the mountain and call her if she needs to. It’s a pretty great first step for teaching younger kids responsibility. You can see Verzon’s tech options for kids here.
Our girls are already asking for a phone number (Kaylee especially). For now, we’ll stick with the WiFi connection, but soon enough we’ll be looking to add them to our phone plan. I want us all to have the ground rules set and understood before then.
As they get older and they build trust, we’ll give them more freedom online. For now, we’ll continue to closely monitor their accounts and educate them on the internet and social media as it evolves.
If you’re pondering whether to let your kids online or to have social media accounts, be sure to check out The Parents’ Guide to Kids and Tech first.