Is Social Media Safe For Kids?
KUDDLE: a new App, offers kid-friendly Social Media
There’s a new social media app in town, and this one is geared toward young children in the hopes of teaching kids how to act on social media and teaching them about the downfalls of being online and sharing pictures and personal details with friends. It’s called Kuddle and was created in Norway to help kids promote “happy sharing” and develop good “netiquette.”
What is Kuddle?
The app is like Instagram for children, allowing them to take pictures, draw on them, add a caption and then share it with friends all while every aspect is controlled by a parent. In order to sign up you have to use a parent’s email account and before any picture can be posted or shared the parent must approve the photo first. The parent also controls who can view the child’s photos and who can send photos to your chid.
Basically, there is parental control and involvement in every step of this app.
Besides a lot of parental supervision, this app has a few features set in place to avoid bullying and teasing on Kuddle. There is no comment section, so when you send a photo to a friend, there is no way for them to say something back, not even if it is something nice. Your friends can “like” the photo you send, but those likes are only visible to the account holder and not to the public. This is to avoid a popularity contest between friends. Kuddle also only allows the users to use their real name which is supposed to teach your kids to be responsible for the content they put up and not hide behind an assumed identity to tease and ridicule others online.
Social Media Preparedness
I think that Kuddle’s intentions are great and their hearts are in the right place; I just don’t think that this app is going to prepare them at all for the pandemonium that is social media. I think that making kids share photo’s using their real name and thereby being accountable for the things they put online is brilliant, but taking away the comment section is a mistake. It is in the comment section that you can teach your kids how to be a good social media friend and a positive force in the online community. It is in the comments that you teach them how to treat people online, just like you would teach them to be good, kinds and respectful people in person. It is in the comments that you teach them how easy it is to say something mean when you are not looking someone in the eye, and how words can be misinterpreted online because you can’t hear the person’s inflections or see their expression when they are passing on a comment.
Social media has given those who bully a platform to continue to bully even when not directly in front of the targeted person, and kids with cell phones are getting younger and younger, exposing them to cyber bullies at a very young age. Social media has not created more bullies but rather given those who already bully a new platform to act out their aggression by targeting their peers, and the online world has made it possible to harass, embarrass, ridicule and torment their victims 24/7. Apps like Kuddle are a step in the right direction; it just needs a little tweaking to truly teach kids about the crazy world of social media. And whether it’s with Kuddle or other methods, knowing what your child is up to online as well as socially after school is the best thing a parent can do to ensure that their child is both practicing good “netiquette” and isn’t becoming a victim to bullying, on or off the grid.
1. Nearly 43% of kids have been bullied online. 1 in 4 has had it happen more than once
2. 70% of students report seeing frequent bullying online
3. Over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyberbullying
4. 68% of teens agree that cyberbullying is a serious problem
5. 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person
Kids are way smarter than you are when it comes to social media and they will find a way to get online and chat with their friends without parental supervision, and unfortunately so will the bullies. Do we need to work hard to combat bad social etiquette and cyber-bullying? Absolutely! But I think the best thing we can do to ensure that our kids are part of the solution and not the problem, is to be involved in their lives. Know who their friends are, listen to their troubles and woes, be active in their school and after-school activities. Teach your kids respect and compassion. You know, be a good parent!
Just like we need to talk to our kids about privacy and good netiquette, I think it is equally important that parents are up to date and educated on what the latest social media trends are. Because the reason bullies are getting away with their awful cyber-behavior is that parents are way behind on cyber trends and how kids communicate. Kids aren’t going to teach you, or tell you what goes on online because you are old and embarrassing, so you need to do some homework on our own. Do kids need to be cyber-educated? Yes. And so do the parents.