Juan Imaz in parenting, Profesores y educadores, Teachers Co-Founder and Chairman • beBee Mar 24, 2017 · 5 min read · 6.1K

Benefits and dangers for children using social networks

Children in the digital age is a topic of huge importance and must be discussed. We teach our future generation, so let’s educate ourselves so that we can teach our youth. Today the average age for wanting and having a social profile keeps getting younger, so I am exploring the age at which children these days want to have a social profile, the reasons, benefits, disadvantages and how to positively educate your child and support your child’s first social media experience. ¨24% of teens go online “almost constantly,” facilitated by the widespread availability of smartphones

Benefits and dangers for children using social networks

For today’s kids and teens, social media ¨is an essential part of their lives, much the way telephones were important to us at their age.¨ By talking about social networking with your child, you can help your child understand how they should manage their profiles later in life and the consequences that are attached to each action. Educating your child is beneficial as the future of social networking is evolving and more information is available at social networks. In the future social networking can be an educational tool that hopefully will go hand in hand with education systems.

¨The internet offers children access to information, communication with their friends and opportunities for exploring the wider world.¨ There are many benefits of being able to connect to the internet for children as they are able to learn and enjoy their experience, but this should be guided, limited and supervised to a certain extent at certain age groups.

Image Source

Legal Age Limit

Due to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act it is illegal for commercial websites and apps to offer accounts to children under 13 without parental consent

Most popular social networks require 13 years of age to sign up for an account such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat and Seeret. Twitter used to have an age limit of 13 but in 2009 that was removed and when you sign up, your age is not asked.

However these are legal standards, what parents choose to let their children do or give permission to do may differ. What each parent deems appropriate may differ based on the restrictiveness of one’s parenting, on the maturity level of the child and the social environment. What may be appropriate for one in another’s circumstances may be inappropriate so this is very variable.

Reality of Children's Social Media Use

Children ignore age limits and sign up for social media accounts. ¨Three-quarters of children aged between 10 and 12 have social media accounts despite being below the age limit, a survey has found on Safer Internet Day.¨

Girls dominate social media; boys are more likely to play video games. boys are more likely than girls to own gaming consoles and play video games.

¨More than half (56%) of teens defined in this report as those ages 13 to 17 — go online several times a day, and 12% report once-a-day use. Just 6% of teens report going online weekly, and 2% go online less often.¨

Reasons for children using social networks

Friends & A place to hang out - As a child and teenager being able to fit in is very important psychologically. Nobody likes to feel left out. This is why sports, hobbies and interests are so important. Being with others gets children’s self-esteem, confidence, socialness and happiness levels rise. Group inclusion is very important and a part of making friends.

¨Expanding their view of self, community and the world.¨

Educational - children and teens are able to learn so much from the internet and from others. Therefore social networking can be an educational learning curve and a maturity learning ladder for children as well.

Languages - ¨technology counts as one of our cultural languages¨

Hobbies & Interests - being able to follow others to have interests in the same hobbies allows you to increase your knowledge and discuss topics of interest in shared hobbies

Talking - expressing yourself and having freedom of speech allow personal growth

Benefits for children using social networks

Social - social support can be found on social networks. Kids can meet others with the same interests, Children can feel valued and accepted. Children can make more friends quickly and learn to create and maintain friendships and relationships. This can be very beneficial especially for only children.

Psychological - children can learn about life skills, emotional and behavioural skills all through using social networks.

Educational - children can learn how to communicate better, improve their literacy skills as well as numeracy skills, learn how to type and read. Also they can learn about the world, news, life skills, interests and knowledge through the use of social networks.

Creative - by being able to express yourself you are being creative. You creativity skills can improve greatly by developing your imagination though video, music and media.

Intellectual - Children can develop their ¨ problem-solving and critical thinking skills¨¨ through the use of social media through apps, games and thinking about what they post online

Dangers for children using social networks

There are many dangers for children and teens who use social networks. It is important for all parents to teach these dangers to their kids, regardless or not if they allow them to use social networks. It is important to understand these dangers as part of one’s life skills in today’s world.

You need to be able to understand your child’s maturity level in order to be prevent such dangers as misunderstanding context, disturbing images or adult material

Inappropriate and adult material should not be viewed by children and it is a danger of being online, special privacy and parental filters and blocks can be used for this

Cyberbullying is a danger and can be prevented with supervision

Stranger danger and engaging with contacts off-screen, it is important to teach your child and supervise your child about not meeting strangers or people you’ve had contact with online.

Oversharing information - it can be dangerous to overshare information. It’s important to teach your child what you can share and what is inappropriate.

Permanency - Social media is powerful and children should be aware that there are consequences of posting online. It is difficult and sometimes not possible to remove what is posted. Therefore what you’ve posted as a child might stick with you forever.

Statistics show that:

17% of teens were contacted online by a stranger that made them feel scared or uncomfortable

30% of teens receive inappropriate advertising

39% of teens lied about their age to access social networks

Educating children to use social networks

There are many benefits for children in using social networks, but for it to be truly beneficial for children you must educate them on online etiquette and how to behave online. As a parent you must learn to use privacy settings and help your children in understanding privacy settings as well. Parental supervision and guidance to make sure their experiences is happy and safe. Parents and carers need to be aware of the dangers in using social networks in order to prevent such from happening.

My tips for educating children include:

Be nice and motivational. You can teach your child the importance of technology for their future and at the same time motivate your child in a positive way to understand that each action has a consequence. Posting online can’t be removed, once others see your posts they can never be removed. Teaching your child to respect and be courteous online as they should be offline is important. Hurtful and embarrassing material is inappropriate. One should act in a way that they would want others to act.

Before posting they should think it over. If they are posting something they perhaps shouldn’t then they should not post it. Children must be taught what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. For example posting your address online is inappropriate, as this could let strangers know where you live.

Do to others what you would want yourself. Let your child know that their families, teachers, the community and future bosses will see the material, so if they don’t want those to see it then it isn’t appropriate to post.

Privacy, privacy, privacy - privacy is so important this really needs to be emphasized. As a teenager or child it is important to only have your content appear to your friends and family, not to strangers. You should not be allowing anybody to contact you or being able to share posts with anyone. 

Don’t friend strangers. If you have strong privacy settings then strangers shouldn’t contact you, but your children need to know that speaking to strangers has dangers.

¨As a parent or carer you can work on your personal brand in order to demonstrate to your child or teen the benefits as well as what they need to be aware of in terms of inappropriateness and danger. This way you are educating your child for their future success
Matt Sweetwood, CEO of beBee USA

Set a good example for your kids through a beBee profile where you create, showcase and share professional and personal content. By educating and showing your children what is appropriate and inappropriate on social networks is very educational for the future of your children. Technology, education and social networks are going to be part of your child’s future and educating them on privacy, benefits and dangers will allow your child to have a strong personal brand when they grow up.

Very important issues @Juan Imaz. Another similar one I'd raise is parent's sharing information, including photos, of their children on social media. As platforms get more sophisticated, including with facial recognition and tagging, no longer does a young adult need to worry about posting inappropriate pictures or posts they have to hope their parents didn't post them photos of them in the bath tub for their employer to find.

Lyon Brave Mar 3, 2018 · #27

When I have a child they will not be raised by a tablet.

Lisa Gallagher Mar 28, 2017 · #26

Worth sharing again!

+2 +2
Praveen Raj Gullepalli Mar 28, 2017 · #25

Very relevant and thought provoking JuanBee! We do not have ALL THE TIME in the world, to explore the WORLD OF INFO and knowledge and distraction now at our fingertips thanks to smartphony and the ubiquitous Internet. So it is of utmost importance that we teach our children to prioritize, be selective, considerate, cautious and focused (in activities and relationships online), and lend greater importance (or at least equal importance) to physical activity, time management and connecting with peers and family, and of course, not ignore newspaper and book reading (the hard-copy versions) ;)

+3 +3
Juan Imaz Mar 28, 2017 · #24

#23 many thanks Lisa!

+2 +2
Lisa Gallagher Mar 28, 2017 · #23

Well laid out post by @Juan Imaz. Very beneficial tips to follow.

+5 +5
Lisa Gallagher Mar 28, 2017 · #22

Excellent tips @Juan Imaz! I remember when my daughter was a teen and using ICQ back then. I worried about some of the dangers you mentioned above and told her she could only use if KNOWING we have the password for the PC. She was also warned we would check her convo's on occasion. She didn't like it but I did fear she might have been naive and met a stranger online, it's too easy for kids to get duped. I love the positive aspects you wrote about too!!

+5 +5
Lance 🐝 Scoular Mar 26, 2017 · #21



+2 +2