Social media is tons of fun — that is, until your kids start asking for their own accounts. As entertaining as it is to post selfies on Instagram or check out the latest on Snapchat, things get a lot scarier once it’s your preteen posting throwbacks and getting hundreds of likes from perfect strangers.
Kim Kardashian, the undisputed queen of social media, served as the keynote speaker at last weekend’s BlogHer conference, and she offered parents a fresh perspective on how to manage kids’ social media accounts, including a hidden benefit you might not have thought about.
When asked what age she thinks is best for allowing kids on social media, Kardashian admitted she isn’t sure, but said she thinks it’s best to handle kids’ requests as they come, since technology changes so frequently. “I think [my kids] will have to ask me, and we’ll have a conversation about it,” she said in her interview. “I do feel like I went through that experience a little bit when [my sisters] Kendall and Kylie were growing up. There was no social media, and then it happened and they wanted Facebook accounts, and we all had to know their passwords and spy on them for my mom.”
Spying, according to Kardashian, is definitely a necessary evil when allowing kids on social media. She says several of her friends catch their kids lying about their whereabouts or oversharing online, and it helps them to be more in the know about what’s going on in their kids’ lives so they can stop trouble before it starts. “There’s so much more [opportunity to use social media] out there, so I’ll be overprotective to an extent and creeping on their accounts all the time,” she said.
But, there’s also one big plus to letting kids on social media that most parents probably haven’t thought about. It gives us a real opportunity to learn more about who our kids are, what they’re interested in and what makes them tick. Social media, it turns out, can actually bring you and your kids closer together.
“To look at the positive, I feel like I know Kendall and Kylie so much more from watching their Snapchats,” Kardashian revealed. “I feel like I really know their every move and what they’re into.”
For parents, it’s tempting to fear social media and want to keep it off-limits. After all, we hear so much about cyberbullying, kids meeting dangerous strangers and teens posting questionable photos or status updates that could come back to haunt them in their future professional lives. But whether we like it or not, technology is a part of our kids’ lives, and we have to figure out how to let them enjoy it and take advantage of its benefits without putting themselves at risk.
If there’s anything we can take away from Kardashian’s simple advice, it’s that parents should be actively involved in their kids’ online lives — know passwords, check in regularly, talk to kids about what’s appropriate and not appropriate to post about online. But also, don’t forget to sit back and enjoy the ride. Social media gives us a unique window into other people’s lives, and that includes a one-of-a-kind look at the amazing, funny and interesting people we’re raising.