Yesterday my 10-year-old asked me if she could join a social media app. I was equal parts horrified and excited for her. Joining the world of social media has become a rite of passage in our society. It is expected that, at some point, everyone will log on – to something anyhow. I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of allowing my daughter to branch out into the internet world but after a lot of thought and carefully enforced rules, we have made the decision to allow her.
She asked to join an app called Amino. From what I can understand, Amino has many (MANY) different kinds of groups you can join depending on what your interests are. In this case, my daughter is obsessed with art and a video game called Undertale – so she was asking to join the Undertale Amnino. In this group, they post drawings, quizzes, and pictures of only Undertale related stuff. Seems pretty innocent right? What could possibly go wrong?
Well….after a lot of online research I found out that there is a private chat function that can be used by online predators to lure kids into online role playing (among other horrific things). I immediately wanted to say NO. Not a chance and never. But I realized that there is no such thing as “never” when it comes to allowing my kids online. It will happen, whether I like it or not. And maybe this was my chance to allow to happen in my terms. So, that’s exactly what I did.
I have allowed her to join the site under the following rules:
- She may never use the chat function – even with people she knows.
- She must use the app in the presence of us (Mom and/or Dad in the same room – never in her bedroom).
- She may not join another Amino group without permission.
- She must ask before she posts a photo of her drawings (this is the main point of the group).
When we talked about it the app and the rules my daughter was surprising chill and understanding. She agreed that there are some strange people out there and she is too young to handle it alone. She was also SO excited to share her artwork that I knew I made the right decision.
My hope here is to slowly allow her the freedom to explore (appropriate) things and discover her own voice online. By doing this, I expect her to have respect for herself and other kids she encounters but most of all feel like she can talk to me if she experiences anything unsavory. If she doesn’t feel like she has to hide what she does online, I will be able to trust her and most importantly she will trust me.
Yesterday was a big day. Like I said, this is a rite of passage. A small step in the growing up process and I am glad she let me be apart of it instead of hiding it from me. I hope this pattern continues as we go forward.