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Gabrielle Union Opens Up About ‘Scary’ DMs on Son Zaire’s Instagram Account

Managing kids’ social media use can sometimes be tricky. You don’t want to overstep privacy boundaries, but it’s a parent’s job to make sure kids are using social media safely – even celebrity parents, as Gabrielle Union explained this week on The Drew Barrymore Show. 

“Now I’m gonna ask you parenting advice, if that’s okay,” Drew Barrymore began, adding that she always talks to Union about this stuff when she sees her. “What do you do to keep the kids safe on social?”

Union says that when it comes to managing their kids’ social media use, she and Dwyane Wade rely on different criteria for each: “We don’t do one size fits all parenting, and we certainly don’t do one size fits all about social media.” But parental management of social media use is important, and they learned this firsthand when son Zaire, now 20 years old, was 16 and wanted his own Instagram account. Union explains that they set it up through Wade’s account so they could see Zaire’s direct messaging inbox (or DMs, as the cool kids say) … and they were kind of horrified at what went down.

“[L]et me tell you, as much as folks were like, Euphoria’s not realistic,” Union said, referring to the HBO hit series that chronicles the hard-partying ways of a rebellious group of teens. “That show, Euphoria, was all up and through my child’s comments.” She said the shocking messages were “scary” and had some hard-earned advice for fellow parents: “If you can get into those DMs, try.”

With 14-year-old daughter Zaya, Union and Wade have a comment-section safeguard in place. “[S]he can only see comments from people that she follows,” Union says. “So unless she follows you, you cannot leave a comment.”

But for 3-year-old Kaavia, the rules are a little different — because for now, at least, her accounts are solely managed by her parents — and, as Union points out, “Obviously she can’t read.” Union says that she and Wade use Kaavia’s social media to “show a free Black girl in all her moods, whether her hair is done, not done … whether she’s got the cutest outfit on or she’s still in her pajamas on a Saturday evening, we wanted people to see what free Black girlhood looks like.”

Three cheers for the Union-Wade family … and for knowing that celebrity parents are in the same boat as us regular folks when it comes to keeping their kids safe on social media.

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