What Age Should You Let Your Child Have a Social Media Account?

social media icons on phone

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I am a rule follower. My opinion is that it’s not reasonable to expect children to follow rules for them if I don’t follow the rules for me.

I wear my seatbelt. I never speed, and I don’t let my children have social media accounts before the required age.

*FYI, some of the links in this article about when should a kid get social media may be affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, we may get a commission (at no extra cost to you). For more info, please see our disclaimer.

When Should Children Use Social Media?

Social media outlets require that children be no younger than 13 before they have accounts. This is a good rule of thumb for parents who want to limit early social media usage. When your kids do get social media accounts, follow them and let your children know you’ll be checking up.

Ask a dozen parents this question, and you’ll undoubtedly get a dozen different answers.

Some parents insist that children should not have social media accounts until high school. Some say it’s fine to start when they’re still elementary age, and some say never at all.

I say it depends on the child and the social media. I also am here to tell you that, as a parent, you need to be vigilant about social media at any age.

Facebook and Twitter

facebook logo

News alert: Kids don’t use Facebook anymore. They probably have Facebook accounts to check in with certain businesses or social groups, but it’s the parents who have taken over this social media network.

The same can be said for Twitter as fewer and fewer teens regularly tweet.

Facebook has a great feature for younger children who aren’t quite ready for social media. Messenger Kids lets parents have complete control over who the kids connect with and what they share through their chats.

Children cannot connect with strangers or override parental controls unless they know your password. My 11-year-old daughter uses Messenger Kids to talk with exactly eight friends.

They are all children I know and have personally approved. I have also locked messenger to disallow links or attachments. This is a great way to teach children how to use social media without any risk.

Instagram and Snapchat

logging into instagram account

Both Instagram and Snapchat remain the most popular social media channels for teens. They use these formats to share pictures with each other and, sometimes, the rest of the world.

There are a few things to note about Instagram. Users have the ability to lock all content so strangers cannot see their photos. This is a very important feature for young people.

The other thing to note is that children may set up accounts using false information, and unless you regularly check their laptops, tablets, and phones, you may never know.

Even though you have social media platforms that will let you “lock” your content to a select group, you shouldn’t regard that content as private.

Why you ask?

Because you might not have set the privacy setting correctly. Also, the social media platform could either fail to secure the information or make changes to security settings down the road.

Lastly, the person you’re allowing to view the content could take a screenshot or repost it on their account for their followers to see.

With all of that said, make sure your child understands that they should NEVER post anything on social media that they’re not okay with people they don’t know seeing it.

Discord and Tik Tok

logging into tiktok account

Parents need to know that some social media outlets have great appeal for children and not so much for adults.

Tik Tok is the short video social media platform known for dance crazes and social commentary.

If you don’t have a Tik Tok profile, you need to get one now. Your children may not have accounts, but they probably see trending videos any time they are with their friends.

Discord bills itself as a communication platform. Kids use discord for voice chats, instant messaging, message boards, and more. Discord allows children to connect even when they are stuck at home.

Even if you have a Discord account, you might not be able to see what they’re doing, saying, and sharing. This is another reason to limit social media usage to young kids until they mature.

Safety With Social Media

kid using a tablet

It doesn’t matter which social media outlet the child uses. Anyone who uses the internet is at risk when it comes to online safety.

You can do a few simple things to make things safer for you and your entire family.

Related: 10 Important Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Trust But Verify

My children know that we trust them, but they also know that we are parents first. We reserve the right to look at their social media accounts at any time.

I have access to their phones, tablets, and laptops. I can always check on them if I have any worries or doubts.

Respect Their Privacy

Just because I can double-check accounts doesn’t mean I always do. Don’t make your kids feel like they have to have secret accounts to evade your snooping.

Instead, let them know you value their privacy, but you also will ignore privacy concerns if you feel they’re in trouble in any way.

Have Strong Rules About Screen Time

My teenage son hates our household rule that screens are only allowed in common areas.

Phones and tablets are NEVER allowed in bedrooms. We don’t peek over his shoulder when he’s on Instagram, but it would be pretty easy if we wanted to.

Ignore “Everyone Else” Syndrome

My closest friend has two children who are 15 and 12. Neither are allowed to have social media accounts because she worries about their mental health.

If you feel your child would be better off without social media, by all means, tell them to wait. You know your child better than anyone.

Key Takeaways

If you feel your child is ready for a social media account at age 13, by all means, sign them up. Just make sure you are ready and willing to follow up on any issues as they arise.

What is your take on this subject? Share in the comments!

Have You Read These?

Frequently Asked Questions

The minimum age to allow your kid to get their first social media account should be 13 years of age. The reason for that is because that’s the age limit social media sites typically set.

There’s no such thing as a safe social media app. A safe social media platform is one that you understand and that you’re able to effectively monitor what your kids are doing and who they’re talking to.

No, you shouldn’t. As of this writing, Instagram’s terms of service is a minimum age of 13 to use their platform. To set a good example for your kids, you should follow that rule. Besides, some parents think that 13 years of age could be too young for kids because of access to strangers and some mature content on that platform.

It’s easy for a 12-year-old to get a Snapchat, but they probably shouldn’t because of how easy it is for children to be doing inappropriate things with the platform.

I think 11 years of age is too young for a child to be on TikTok. The primary reason is that it’s so easy for kids to find themself seeing and hearing mature content on the platform.

Because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) most social media apps and platforms limit the usage of their app to 13 years and older because the COPPA law limits their ability to track kids on their platform.

Social platforms have minimum ages that should be followed. Outside of that, the right age for your child is going to vary. You need to gauge when you think your child has matured and has the social and emotional skills needed to manage having a social media account. For some kids, it’s pretty early. For other kids, it might not happen until well into their teenage years.

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