Author Lighthouse Internet Guardian
Social media networks have age restrictions. To join Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat your child needs to be older than 13. Whatsapp requires users to be over 16 years of age, and YouTube over 18. With online threats like cyberbullying, predators and explicit content; there's a good reason for these limitations. It's also important to trust your gut whether or not your child is ready to be exposed to these networks, and set the ground rules before allowing access. In this article we share some ideas on how your child can digitally socialise while staying safe, no matter their age.
A Family Instagram Account
If your child is not ready for their own Instagram account, but eager to get involved in social sharing, here's an idea. Set up a family Instagram account, e.g. @TheDlaminis. Make the account private, only granting family members and friends access to your content. Now your aspiring photographer or filmmaker can shoot and share content that has limited reach. They can also play with the fun filters on Instagram Stories. Make a rule that the family account only follows other users vetted by a parent. It's a great way to introduce your child to a social network, and still keeping a close view of activity. A great plus is that it becomes a family memory bank.
A Family Whatsapp Group
Social Networks do allow us to stay in touch with family across the globe, but the same benefit can be achieved using a whatsapp group. Create a family whatsapp group from your own device that includes everyone further afield - from Granny and Cousins, to Uncles and Aunts. This safe space is a great place to share photos of family outings, special voice notes and arrange group video calls. Whatsapp has some drawing tools your little one can use to alter photos too.
When your child is old enough to join a social network, you can install Lighthouse onto your child's device to block content based on the filters you've set. Instead of downloading the social media apps, get your child to use the networks via the website or mobisite. This way Lighthouse is able to monitor their social feeds. The AI will detect inappropriate content and block it before your child even gets a glance of it. However, it is important to note that Lighthouse is not able to monitor Direct Message inboxes on social network websites, or any part of the social apps as these are encrypted and do not allow surveillance.
YouTube has created a separate app which is intended to be simpler and safer for kids. The curation is however done through automation. This means that there is not a sensible parent checking every video to give it the green light. There have been many incidences of unsuitable content slipping through the cracks, in many cases disguised as a popular kids show. YouTube Kids does however have the ability to create an offline playlist. This means you can watch and download videos that you think are age appropriate. Your child can enjoy these and navigate through your pre-selected videos. For older kids who are not interested in YouTube Kids, you can trust in Lighthouse to detect unsuitable content within videos, and block these videos in real-time before your child watches them.
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