NEW YORK — Six in 10 American parents believe children under 13 shouldn’t be on social media at all. A recent OnePoll study asked 2,000 parents of kids between five and 18 years-old about their views on social media, especially when it comes to their own children. The survey found that 61 percent think young teens are still too young to be online.
While nearly half of all respondents have allowed their kids to access social media (47%), another 31 percent don’t allow them to create accounts on any platform.
Social (media) anxiety
Of those whose kids are already online, 69 percent of parents think their children are mature enough to be there. Another 60 percent say it’s important for them to feel connected. However, most say they have a strict curfew when it comes to their child’s social media usage (88%).
Respondents typically allow their kids to have between two and three hours (2.3 hours on average) of social media time per week, although Gen X parents (ages 42-57) stood out as the most permissive (2.7 hours).
For Dr. Devorah Heitner, author of “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World,” keeping children safe on social media should involve more than trying to limit their exposure.
“It’s so important to mentor our kids so that we know they are making the best possible decisions when they’re not with us,” Heitner says in a statement. “If we only monitor them, then we’re going to miss things, and our relationships with our kids becomes about catching them doing the wrong thing as opposed to teaching them how to do the right thing.”
The survey comes after Instagram recently launched its new parental controls, which will allow parents to set limits on their teens’ screen time and monitor who they follow and who follows them.
Parents are one step ahead
Before the launch, nine in 10 respondents say they “always” monitor their child’s social media activity for their security and protection (89%).
That may be because most worry their children will encounter cyberbullying and other dangers through social platforms (63%). To encourage online safety, 87 percent of parents say they’ve told their kids not to share personal information online and keep their social media profiles private (72%).
Additionally, 63 percent encourage their kids to be careful when it comes to who they accept as “friends” or follow online.
“You want to support your child, and that could include some monitoring,” Heitner adds. “I think a lot of parents are interested in covertly monitoring, but I think you want to overtly monitor and have them show you things they’re doing, especially talk about who they may be in contact with online.”
Heitner also notes that establishing trust between parents and children can go a long way.
“If (your kids) see something that makes them uncomfortable, if they’re in a situation where they’re worried about a friend harming themselves or others or if they’re concerned about their friend’s mental health – they need to come to you.”