Has your child been asking you if they can create an account on social media sites like Facebook or YouTube? If they haven’t, they probably will start soon. Maybe you’re wondering when the time is right to let kids use social media and the whole internet. Don’t worry—you’re not alone. The question is raised more frequently in households everywhere as social media has become part of most people’s daily life. While children under the age of 13 cannot have accounts across various social media platforms (and rightfully so), Facebook Messenger for Kids and YouTube’s safety features are just two of many ways to gradually and safely introduce your child to the online realm.
Facebook Messenger for Kids
Facebook Messenger for Kids was introduced by Facebook as a way for children to utilize online messaging without diving head-first into the sea of social media. This app can be downloaded onto your child’s device (or yours), and they can then chat with parent-approved contacts. If you already have a Facebook account, Facebook Messenger for Kids simply connects to your existing account. A nice feature we like is the lack of advertisements, therefore, no information is collected for advertisers. Your kids can safely send messages, photos, and kid-friendly GIFs to their friends and family members (again, they can only send to parent-approved contacts). Additionally, the parent can remotely remove contacts if ever necessary. Larry Magid, the CEO & co-founder of connectsafely.org, has described this app as “training wheels for social media and messaging.” To learn more about Facebook Messenger for Kids, visit the Facebook Newsroom.
Making YouTube Safer for Kids
One way children accidentally access inappropriate content on the web is through YouTube. While there are many age-appropriate channels for entertainment and even learning (such as Khan Academy), there are just as many inappropriate videos and channels. One way to combat this is through YouTube’s Parental Controls. To turn these on, simply visit YouTube, and at the bottom of the left menu bar, click Settings. At the bottom of this page, you will see a few drop down menus. Choose the one that says “Restricted Mode.” Here, you can select “On.” This feature will sort out certain keywords and videos.
Keep in mind that this filter is not perfect, so another way to keep your children safe on these sites is by creating playlists of approved videos for them to watch. You will need a google account for this feature. It is free and simple to set up if you don’t already have one.
General Internet Safety for Kids
Introducing your children to the internet is important in today’s technological world. There are many ways you can teach them about online safety and internet responsibility. Specially-designed apps and websites are some of the best tools. A highly-regarded website is Kiddle; it is a search engine powered by Google to filter out anything that’s not appropriate for kids. For example, we searched “Best R-Rated Movies.” Our results returned other movie-related pages, but none with R ratings. Kiddle is a great way for your children to explore their curiosity without you having to worry about what websites might be presented to them.
Another tool for safe web browsing is Mobichip. This app can be a direct replacement for your child’s device’s default web browser. It allows parents to set filters based on age or category. Additionally, Mobichip uses real-time content filtering which analyzes and rates every website, blog, or piece of web content as it is accessed.
An app that is great for teaching time-management online is Screentime. With this app, parents can more easily keep tabs on their children’s electronic behavior. You can set time limits for your kid from your phone and restrict certain apps during school or bed time. Screentime also lets you pause your child’s device and reward them with bonus time.
Twigby Phones for Kids
If you’re ready to take the leap and get your child their first cell phone, Twigby is the perfect option! At Twigby, we understand that each child is at a different stage in life, and parents have different desires for their child’s phone. Withall your child’s activities, there are times when you want to stay in contact in case of an emergency. For just this, we offer a few different basic phones that are great for texting and calling (don’t forget that unlimited texting is free for all Twigby plans).
If you—and your kid—are ready to throw internet and apps into the mix, we also offer many different types of smartphones, but without the expensive price tags other carriers have. On top of that, our plans start at just $9 each month!
Within Twigby’s Self Care, an online account portal, you are able to control all aspects of your child’s phone. You can change the plan (including turn Overage Protection on or off), limit data speeds, and more. In Self Care you see usage statistics such as how many minutes or how much data is used each month. Additionally, you have the option to turn off talking, texting, data, or hotspot for any reason. We know that our customers value having the controls to their account, so we give them to you in an easily accessible spot online or through our Self Care App.
When is the Right Time?
Although it would make some decisions much easier, there is no specific age threshold for giving your child internet and social media access. Parents, you know your children well, and you know what they’re ready for and when they’re ready for it. Jumping straight into full internet access whenever your child desires might not be the right path for most. There are many tools to keep kids safe online while teaching them to be responsible members of the online community. At Twigby, we want to help you access all the right tools at exactly the right price.