Social Media & Children, One Parent’s Tips

Written by Darius Khayat // January 21, 2015 // Articles

I realize this is not really a post about a “legal topic” but as an estate planner, many of my client consultations involve discussions about family issues or topics they may be faced with and would like my opinion on.  A recent discussion in our household involves an issue many parents have or will address at some point I would imagine; social media & children.  One of our children approached us about allowing her to create an Instagram account.  Like most parents, we have serious concerns about our children being exposed to inappropriate content or communications, not to mention the propensity for social media accounts to be big time wasters in general.  We reached out to a few of our friends to see how they have handled the issue if faced with it.  This presented an opportunity to pass along some words of wisdom given to us by one of our technology savvy neighbors who is a person we respect and admire.  Most of these steps probably apply to a variety of sites.  The following is her input which helped us set some basic ground rules and I hope it is helpful to you:

  • I have to be able to “follow” her
  • I use it too and monitor her postings and her friends’ postings
  • If I see something inappropriate from her or anyone she is following (swear words, inappropriate pictures, mean comments about other kids, etc.) I talk to her about it and
    • If it is her, she will likely lose access (haven’t had to go there yet, but she is only 12)
    • If it is a friend, I request to follow the friend and if the friend does not allow me to follow them, she is not allowed to follow them.
    • If the friend’s post is really inappropriate, and we know the parents, we have been known to make a phone call. I hope that the parents of my daughter’s friends would do the same.
  • She is not allowed to have her phone/iPod in her room after 9:00 p.m.
  • She is limited to 50 “followers”…no reason for a 12 year old to have 300+ people following her… heck, I don’t have 300 friends!  She has to choose wisely and not grant access to everyone.
  • Occasionally, I will go through her list of people and ask who all the people are that she is following or that are following her.
  • She has gone through some cyber safety courses through her Girl Scout troop and I have talked to her about how public of a venue it really is… all it takes is for someone to take a screen shot of your post on their phone and text it to someone else… presto… public. That is the case for all digital media, unfortunately…

“Trust but verify” is what another friend of mine said to me. As for the time consumption issue…If we are in the car or playing a game or watching a show together, or eating a meal together, the devices get a break… I want the human interaction… call me old-fashioned 🙂

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