How to protect your kids on social media

(StatePoint) While most social media apps require that users be over 13 years old, this hasn’t stopped many younger children from opening accounts, according to new research.

The recently-released C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health finds that 49% of parents ages 10-12 and 32% of parents of children ages 7-9 say their child uses social media. What’s more, not all parents are monitoring their child’s activities on these apps due to a range of factors, from lacking the ability to set up controls to not having the time.

“Social media use poses a number of potential safety threats to children. With more children using social media at a younger age, it’s critical that parents ensure their safety and teach them how to be responsible digital and social media users,” says Michele Havner, director of marketing at Eturi Corp., maker of OurPact, a leading parental control and screen time app.

Is your child using social media? Not sure? According to Havner, here are a few ways you can help protect them on social media apps and on other sites:

• Open communication: Keep the lines of communication open with your child. Listening and being respectful will encourage your child to be honest with you about their social media usage and what they’re encountering online.

• Set parameters: Whether it’s only allowing your child to use educational social media apps, or enforcing a strict moratorium until they reach a certain age, set parameters that make sense for your child and stick with them.

• Set a schedule: Don’t let digital devices overrun your family life. Setting a digital schedule can help ensure children still have time for homework, after school activities and quality time with family. Be sure to practice what you preach and set a good digital example.

• Proceed with caution: Before letting your child set up an account with a particular social media app, take a good look at what the app is all about to ensure that it’s appropriate for their age group and individual maturity level.

• Get assistance: A parental control app such as OurPact can help you set a digital schedule, block inappropriate apps and websites, set safety filters and even get screenshots of digital activity. No matter how busy you are, new enhancements make it easy to get a handle on your child’s social media use. With the ability to create individual profiles, you can tailor rules based on your child’s age and other considerations. To learn more, visit ourpact.com.

“Though many school systems are adding digital safety and savviness to the curriculum, parents should fill in gaps by introducing children to smart digital habits, and by leveraging new tools and resources that help keep kids safe,” says Havner.