Kids & Social Media: Helpful Information and Tips for Parents

Last Updated by Kate Spears on

Social media is a huge part of our lives these days. Did you know that 81% of kids age 12-17 use some form of social media regularly? Can you guess what the most popular platform among this age group might be? We were a bit surprised to learn that it’s YouTube. (Click here to check out WCTE’s YouTube channel).

All of us, including our kids, are bombarded with various messages while spending time online. As a parent, it’s important to think about how your child uses various types of media and what kinds of boundaries you set.

In prepping for our WCTE Get Ready To Learn radio show, we ran across this quote from an episode of Frontline PBS that aired in 2008.

I think to raise a child in the 21st century without the skills of how to walk through an online social networking site is irresponsible for a parent. But that doesn't mean that at age 13 your child should be on there, no holds barred, completely unregulated. My argument is that around the age of 16, I think teens are ready to be on there, with limited amounts of time, with a lot of guidance from their parents, and a lot of guidance that started maybe four years prior to that.

But the point here is not cutting kids off from something; it's teaching them how to use it responsibly and safely and how to express themselves appropriately. 

CANDACE KELSEY | Author, Generation MySpace

It might seem funny to us in 2016 that a young person would not use social media until age 16, but at the advent of this technology, parents were wary.

What we can learn from this previously held belief is that it’s always important to offer guidance to our kids as they are enjoying various media in the digital realm.

One great resource for parents is PBS Kids character Ruff Ruffman. With original animations and interactive features, Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius explores the dynamic world of digital media literacy in this innovative project for PBS KIDS.

Ruff stars in a series of videos that are part of a pilot program looking at how kids can and should use media and technology. The videos focus on topics like texting, sharing photographs, using search, and finding an appropriate balance of technology use. Check out all the great FREE Ruff Ruffman materials and resources by clicking here.

One great Ruff Ruffman video in particular is focused on getting the most out of the Internet. Parents, check it out!

One thing parents may want to consider is how much time they allow kids to spend on the web or on mobile devices. Would you believe Americans spend an average of 1.7 hours using social media each day?

With social media playing such a large role in our daily lives, it’s crucial to set healthy boundaries and have a healthy relationship with it. Even more important is modeling this behavior for our kids.

39% of kids do not enable privacy settings on social media, and this may be because parents aren’t taking an active role. Another issue young people face on the web is cyberbullying, which about 87% of today’s youth say they’ve witnessed.

With 1.5 billion active monthly users, Facebook isn’t losing steam. Social media across the board has approx. 2.31 billion users.

And we certainly aren’t saying that social media is bad. In fact, here at WCTE, we love social media! It allows us to connect with you, our community. We have a thriving Facebook page where you can find all sorts of great information about our programming, events, and community initiatives and partners.

But as parents, you may want to think about how your kids are using social media and what types of rules you decide to establish for your family. For some inspiration on developing family technology rules, check out Ruff Ruffman’s Technology Rules page.


Tune in each Saturday morning at 9:30 for the WCTE Get Ready To Learn Radio Show, with host Cindy Putman on Zimmer Broadcasting's The HUB 107.7 FM and 1400 AM. 

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