- Parenting Hub
- Category Advice Column, Parenting, Tech
There is a lot being written about whether parents should be reading content their Child’s post on social media channels. Before I give you my opinion, let me share with you the two opposing points of view from experts. Some say you should read them and others say you shouldn’t. Let’s explore the reasons given by those on both sides of this issue.
First of all, both supporters and opponents of monitoring Child’s social media posts agree on one thing… that it should all start with a conversation: talking about appropriate use of social media, setting up ground rules, and discussing online safety. Parents who will be monitoring their children’s activity also usually advise them they will be sharing all passwords and will be checking their posts at random and without warning.
But these two groups disagree when it comes to trusting Child’s ability to behave safely and appropriately consistently when online. Those in support of monitoring believe it is the parents’ job to keep their Child’s safe. They do it because of two facts: Child’s can be influenced easily by peers or predators who encourage inappropriate behaviour, and Child’s lack judgment skills due to a normal underdeveloped brain.
Those who oppose having parents read their Child’s’ social media posts stand on two other primary principles: that spying on your Child’s will teach them to hide their online activity better, and the best way to develop trust in your child is to let them know you trust them by not monitoring them. These are two very false premises that are continuing to grow in popularity with some parents.
If I have to pick a camp to join, it would be the MONITORING camp. While the anti-monitors know there is a small risk of danger to the child, they are willing to accept it. I on the other hand, cannot allow any risk to our children’s safety and well-being, no matter how small it may appear. Yes, there is always a risk to our children’s safety, whether we’re monitoring or not, but I believe that we should always take reasonable measures to reduce that risk. Providing access to our child to other risk-taking youth, or to predators should never be a viable option. This should be considered nothing more than child endangerment!
It is my professional opinion that children shouldn’t have a basic cell phone, nor a social media account, until at least 13 years of age, the age specified by Facebook (smart phones no sooner than 16). And they should be strictly monitored at least up until they reach the age of 16, perhaps later for some teens, depending on their developmental maturity.
It’s alarming how young I’m noticing children with smart phones and reading Facebook updates. And commercial companies aren’t helping matters by making smart phone toys for toddlers and preschoolers. It’s actually training children to have a device tethered to them way too early in their young lives.