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Social Media and Safety

Social media is becoming a regular part of life for most kids. Support your child to manage the risks in their online world but still enjoy its benefits.

Two young girls using a tablet together

Social media and kids

Kids are spending more time online and connecting with others.

Understanding kids' use of social media:

  • Kids are becoming more connected, mobile and social
  • They are being introduced to the online world at younger ages
  • Kids as young as six are accessing social media sites
  • 78% of eight to nine year olds have used a social network (YouTube being the most popular)
  • They mostly start using social media to play online games or watch YouTube videos; and then graduate to platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook
  • Most kids have describe being online as ‘very important’ to them

Social media can be enjoyable and beneficial for kids

Contrary to what you might have heard, risk does not always equal harm on social media. Social media can offer many benefits for your kids:

  • Connect with family and friends
  • Develop and express their unique identity
  • Explore different ideas
  • Provide opportunities to learn with others
  • Share their creativity through music and art
  • Develop digital media literacy

Types of social media and age limits

Your child might ask you to sign them up to a popular game or social media site.

It’s important to check the minimum age requirements, be aware of the risks and supervise your child’s use.

While there are too many sites and apps to list in just one article, you can learn about them and get up-to-date information on the eSafety website.

The types of online platforms your kids may want to use include:

  • ​​​​​​Multi-player online games - Moshi Monsters, Club Penguin, World of Warcraft, Minecraft (ages ranging from 5-12+)
  • Media sharing -  YouTube, Musical.ly (ages 13+, and/or requiring parent permission)
  • Social media networks – Facebook, Instagram (ages 13+)
  • Microblogging - Twitter, Tumblr (ages 13+)
  • Video conferencing -  Skype, FaceTime (18+ or adult permission)

Common risks on social media for kids

Some of the things you may worry your kids are exposed to include:

Sexting and image-based abuse

Being groomed by online predators

Having their personal information shared

Accidentally downloading viruses or malware

Access to inappropriate content such as pornography

Being cyberbullied, embarrassed, harassed or attacked online

Report unsafe content

If you see unsafe content or behaviours online, you can make a report to:

Empower yourself and your child to take steps to stay safe

Talk to your child about things they can do to stay safe online and educate yourself about the steps you can take if things get unsafe. Here’s some tips to help keep their time online safe:

  • Set rules – what to report to an adult, what websites they can visit, what they post online
  • Encourage them not to share passwords with friends
  • Change privacy settings to make sure their information is private and limit who can connect with them
  • Encourage them to connect only with people they know offline
  • Set a good example - role model safe, healthy and positive online behaviours
  • Use strong passwords and update them regularly
  • Asking a trusted adult before posting any personal information online, including for competition entries
  • Be involved and stay involved – take an interest in the sites they are visiting and get to know them
  • Teach them about the consequences of sharing something online
  • Keep identifying information to a minimum - eg. do not reveal their location
  • Contact the Police immediately if you become aware of grooming on social media
  • Be aware of what your child is doing online and who they talk to
  • Monitor your child’s time online - keep computers or devices in a shared areas
  • Encourage them to talk with a trusted adult about online issues
  • Use filters or parental controls to manage content your child has access to
  • Educate and empower – help your child develop strategies to deal with issues (eg. reporting to an adult)

It's important to know that your child is staying safe online

Talking to your child about the risks and benefits of social media can help them navigate these platforms safely.

This content was last reviewed 17/05/2018

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