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What Your Kids Need to Know About Social Media

Katya Bowd

Posted on July 02 2018

kids on social media

We live in a very digital age, which, when it comes to parenting, can be both a blessing and a burden. While traditionally, our children always relied to us and their siblings to keep them entertained, they can now turn to computers, tablets and mobile phones to stop them from ever uttering those words, “I’m bored.” They can also take advantage of the many educational apps which help them to excel in their favourite subjects and improve in those with which they are struggling.

However, for all the benefits of digital devices, there are also just as many disadvantages. You may find that your child has their eyes glued to the screen more often than not, you can also face the endless battle of trying to get them off their tablets, and they may find themselves in a dangerous and dark world you knew nothing about. Child behaviour can change in an instant when they begin accessing stuff they shouldn’t or spend a lot of time on social media.

My five-year-old has her own iPad, but I’m very strict when it comes to screen time. I monitor what she uses it for, only allow approved apps that are suitable for her age and ensure it’s purely an educational tool rather than something she can use at her leisure at any time of the day. While she’s only five, I am also well aware of how easy it is for young children to be influenced by what they see on their screen.

When your children become of the age when they begin to learn about social media, socialize with their friends online, and talk to their schoolmates. It’s crucial to not only set rules for their device usage but help them understand the laws as well. While they might think you’re strict in that you only allow an hour of screen time per day, they will be more than shocked when they learn what they’re doing online is also bound by legalities.

When you’ve purchased your child a digital device and have laid down those initial ground rules, don’t forget to talk about the legal requirements as well. You’re never too young to know what’s right from wrong. Here are a few things you may not know about your child’s legal requirements once they head online.

Cyber-Bullying


kids on social media


You may pride yourself on having exceptional parenting skills, but cyberbullying is a prevalent problem among children – even those with parents who monitor screen time. While no parent ever likes to think their child is a bully, it happens more than you think – not just on the playground. Your child might think their teasing and bullying is harmless fun, at least for them, but it could be an illegal act depending on which state you live in.

The laws and severity of those laws can depend on the level of bullying, and many of these laws have been developed due to excessive bullying, and even young children committing suicide as a result of bullying. In Idaho, any student found to be engaging in cyber-bullying can be charged with a misdemeanor under “Jared’s Law.”

In Louisiana, a student who is found to engage in bullying can face imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to $500. Similar laws are now in effect throughout Wisconsin, Tennessee, Maryland, and North Carolina.

If the moral implications of cyber-bullying aren’t enough to put a stop to your child’s behaviour, then the legal consequences might be.

Photos Considered to be Explicit

As your child turns into a teenager, it’s more important to monitor their screen time than ever before – especially around the 13 to 15-year-old age group. While the sharing of explicit photographs on social media isn’t illegal in all states, it is in California and New Jersey. Other states also plan on following suit soon as well.

If your child has distributed explicit photos of someone else, or themselves, they put both them and their friends at significant risk in the online world. While it might be a tricky subject to broach with your children, it’s necessary to educate your children about social media and the implications it can have on a much grander scale.

kids on social media

Accessing Someone Else’s’ Accounts

Nowadays, we have online accounts for everything. For using social media, accessing our emails, doing our banking, online shopping – everything has to have an account. However, it’s a well-known fact that our accounts are our own, and no one else’s. Many children and teenagers think it’s funny to log onto someone else’s Facebook account, post status updates pretending to be the other person, and going through and changing their information. While it’s normally done in jest – and is seen as such – it’s actually illegal.

If your teen does this, is caught doing it and is then reported by the victim, they can be charged with a criminal offense. While digital laws are murky with the changing of the times, there is one act that makes what your children do for fun a crime. The Communications Privacy Act and Stored Communications Act are both valid laws for protecting online privacy and safeguarding your own information you have stored in a private account.

The digital world is here to stay, and it’s only getting more advanced by the day. In knowing this, it’s crucial as a parent to keep your finger on the pulse of these advancements – if not for yourself, then for your children. Put rules in place to protect them online, educate them on their legal requirements when accessing the internet, and limit screen time where possible. No child ever sets out to break the law by merely accessing the internet but helping them to understand that their online actions have consequences can make them more responsible for their actions.

Do you have rules in place for technology use in your household? Do you use any unique parenting apps to block their access to specific sites? We’d love to hear your take on this.