Posted: 4 Min ReadFeature Stories

Keeping Connected Kids Safe on Social Media

What parents and kids need to know about Cyber Safety and reputation issues with social media.

From celebrity parents publicly feuding (looking at you Kim and Ye), to social media companies trying to build better community guidelines, there is an important conversation taking place right now regarding children on social media.

Spending time on social media has become commonplace in modern adult life. Sharing a window into our daily lives, consuming content, and communicating through your platform of choice – from Facebook to Instagram to SnapChat to TikTok – has become a way to express creativity, find connection, and even do business.

While social media can be fun and entertaining, it comes with its own set of risks to our privacy, security, identity and reputation. The potential concerns are magnified when you consider children on social media. However, a new NortonLifeLock survey conducted by The Harris Poll among 2,012 U.S adults, including 532 parents of children aged 5-17, found that the majority of parents – more than 3 in 5 parents of children 5-17 (63%) – agree that their children are safe using social media.  

Expectation vs. Reality

Despite community guidelines of almost all social media networks regulating use to ages 13+, 52% of parents of 5–8-year-olds and 72% of parents of 9-12 year-olds allow their children to have social media accounts. Many parents of children under 18 (38%) even agree it’s okay for parents to let their kids lie about their ages to get an account. Most parents of minors (82%) admit that it is easy for children to hide social media accounts and activity from their parents, and in fact, 39% of parents who allow their children aged 5-17 to have a social media account have caught their child having an account without their permission.

As social media companies face scrutiny for the potential harm to users and new platforms are being built specifically designed for children as young as six, what can parents do to help keep their families safe?

TikTok is laying the groundwork with a series of updates to their community guidelines designed to make the platform safer for its users, increasing transparency while also addressing cyberbullying and misinformation. This will hopefully put pressure on other platforms to follow suit. That said, NortonLifeLock encourages parents and children to work together to help ensure a safe and enjoyable online experience, especially while navigating through the social media world.

What Can Parents Do?

  • Have a dialogue. It is incredibly important that parents and children have a conversation about what’s appropriate and acceptable for their families on social media platforms. We know that these conversations aren’t easy to have. That’s why NortonLifeLock has partnered with National PTA to create The Smart Talk , a step-by-step guide to help facilitate the conversation.
  • Educate yourself about social media. Start by finding out what kind of apps and sites your child is interested in. Read app reviews, age limits, and fine print. If you don’t have an account on the social media site your child wants to use, get one. Make sure you know exactly what they can and cannot do and decide what they should and shouldn’t do.
  • Stay engaged and aware. Nearly 4 in 5 parents of children 5-17 who allow their children to have a social media account (79%) say they monitor their child’s social media activity regularly, however, this leaves more than 1 in 5 (21%) who are not monitoring it regularly.
  • Create a social media agreement. Just like house rules, come up with a set of social media guidelines for your family to help set clear boundaries. NortonLifeLock found that more than 2 out of 3 parents who allow their child aged 5-17 to have an account (70%) have a social media agreement with their kids.
  • Once posted, always posted. Teach your kid about posting on sites. Deleting a post does not mean it’s permanently gone. All their online posts, comments, likes, and shares are a part of their digital footprint.
  • Let your kids know the importance of privacy. Many social media sites request names, dates of birth, school names, and hometown. To help keep kids safe, teach your children how much personal information is too much information online. And remember that this type of personally identifying information, if exposed, could make them vulnerable to identity theft.

The reality is kids are more connected than ever before. But, while they may know the ins and outs of an iPad before they enter grade school, it could be easy to forget that they still have a lot to learn when it comes to spotting the risks and pitfalls of social media. Parents can help their children navigate the digital world – including social media – with open dialogue, monitoring and engagement so they can safely enjoy and benefit from the increasingly connected world we live in.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of NortonLifeLock from February 1-3, 2022 among 2,012 adults ages 18 and older, including 532 parents of children aged 5-17. Results were weighted for age within gender, region, race/ethnicity, household income, education, marital status and size of household where necessary to align them with their actual proportions in the population.  Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Editorial note: Our articles provide educational information for you. NortonLifeLock offerings may not cover or protect against every type of crime, fraud, or threat we write about. Our goal is to increase awareness about cyber safety. Please review complete Terms during enrollment or setup. Remember that no one can prevent all identity theft or cybercrime, and that LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

Copyright © 2022 NortonLifeLock Inc. All rights reserved. NortonLifeLock, the NortonLifeLock Logo, the Checkmark Logo, Norton, LifeLock, and the LockMan Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of NortonLifeLock Inc. or its affiliates in the United States and other countries. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

About the Author

Paige Hanson

Chief of Cyber Safety Education

Paige Hanson serves as an expert on consumer and digital safety. She is a certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist™ and holds a certificate in Identity Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin, Center for Identity.

Want to comment on this post?

We encourage you to share your thoughts on your favorite social platform.