Is My Preteen Safe Online?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


     We cannot deny the fact that the internet is already an integral part of our lives as it makes life a breeze. It provides easy access to information through search engines like Google, faster communication with the use of email, chat, and social media, convenience in online shopping and banking, and the list goes on.

     Everyone in my family has social media accounts either on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. However, there's one situation that we need to handle seriously - the social media use of our preteens. I will enumerate the pros and cons of social media in preteens below and why it is important for parents like us to make sure that our kids are safe in this digital age.

Is My Preeteen Safe Online?

     So, your preteen keeps on bugging you that his/her classmates have a Facebook account. As a mother, I would be bothered that my preteen is curious about social media sites. I want to make sure that my son knows the pros and cons of having a social media account so that he will not be encouraged to create an account on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram at a very young age.

     My son is only 8 years old, still considered a preteen and I’ve been wondering why some parents are allowing their young children to have social media accounts. So I listed down the pros and cons of social media in preteens and I hope this will be a guide to parents who have the same dilemma.

Pros of Social Media in Preteens

1. Communication

     When you have a social media account, it's easy to communicate with relatives and friends especially those living abroad. Milestones and other special occasions are easily shared with family or friends even if they’re thousands of miles away. You can say hi and catch-up with any of your loved ones from wherever they may be.

2. Information

     Social media can help preteens and teens to be updated with current news and events. For example, if they need information on current events for school or if they need extra reading for their subject, social media can help both as a direct link to the sites or through crowdsourcing.

3. Technology

     Social media can also help expand your kid’s understanding of technology. Following certain accounts on Twitter or pages on Facebook could help your kid get information on a vast number of important things. He or she may even learn how to operate gadgets, which could improve motor skills and coordination.

Cons of Social Media in Preteens

1. Child Predators

     Children 12 years old and below are very vulnerable to the dark side of the online community. Because their young minds could be a little too trusting, there’s a risk that they will give out information that other people could use against you and your family. Child predators have lots of methods they use to get what they want. They could pretend to be preteens, too, while talking to your child.

     It’s a dangerous world out there especially for a kid who isn’t aware just yet of what other people are capable of doing. Their young minds can still be manipulated so this is a real danger for preteens going online. 

2. Child Pornography and Cyber Sex

     You don’t want your child’s photo to be in the possession of child predators. This is the biggest reason why we need to be really, really, really strict with our teens and preteens on the use of social media. I think it's better to tell them not to make an account on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram until you believe they are already aware of the dangers social media can pose. 

     You don’t even want to know what could be done to a harmless picture of your preteen at the hands of predators prowling the internet in search of possible victims.

3. Cyber Bullying

     It’s a sad reality but a child can be bullied on just about anything they post online. Something as simple as an unflattering photo could be enough for other social media users to bash and shame your kid because they feel there are no repercussions to what they’re doing. Little do they know that these comments, which could be brushed aside by adults could cause irreparable anguish in children.

4. Phishing

     Any information about you and your family at the wrong hands could be used to hurt you. Something as simple as your kid giving out your address or mobile number could lead to identity theft or even credit card fraud if they get enough information.

     All parents must be aware of the risks social media sites pose towards their under-aged children. That's why I fully support the #makeITsafePH campaign of Globe Telecom which promotes cybersecurity and cyberwellness among Filipinos. This campaign includes the Globe Digital Thumbprint Program which includes free cyberwellness workshops for students. I hope all schools in the country will be part of this so that our children will understand the impact of their online behavior and also learn how they can be safe and responsible for their online activities even if we are not around to guide them.

     We are all responsible for what we and our children post online. Parents must be very vigilant and arm ourselves with information on how to protect our loved ones from the dangers of the internet. Our preteens and teens are vulnerable to this and that's why we need to be constantly monitoring what they do online even if it’s just playing games or watching videos on YouTube.

     Do you have a preteen who has a social media account? Let's discuss your thoughts on this in the comment section below :)

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