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Part 2: Is Your Kid Ready for Social Media?

Is my kid ready for social media? This is a question on many parents' minds. In the second part of our "Getting Started with Social Media" series, we look at why the age of 13 is not necessarily relevant, and how you can better assess whether your kid is mature enough for the challenges and opportunities of the digital world.

Stefanie Parth
5/15/2024 • 5 min
Teenager with pink glasses takes selfie in front of graffiti sprayed wall

Officially, many social media platforms set the minimum age at 13. Why 13? This age limit was set by the U.S. Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which dictates how and when children's information can be collected.

However, it's easy to just enter a date, and platforms often don't verify this information accurately - they benefit from having more users. It also raises the question: Is reaching this age really a sign that your kid is ready for social media? Age is just a number and says little about a kid's ability to handle the complex and often challenging situations that can arise on social media.

More important than age is emotional and cognitive maturity. These skills will help your kid navigate social networks safely and responsibly. But how do you know if your kid has the necessary maturity? Here are some considerations and questions to help you:

Emotional Maturity

Before your kid explores the world of social media, it's important that they are emotionally mature enough to handle the variety of social interactions that await them online. Emotional maturity means that a kid can understand their own emotions and respond appropriately to the emotions of others. This is critical because on social media kids are exposed to feedback and criticism quickly and often.

Here are some questions to help you assess your kid's emotional maturity:

How does your kid deal with criticism and rejection?
The ability to handle criticism constructively is a key aspect of emotional maturity. Some kids take critical comments very personally and may react in a hurt or even impulsive way. In the world of social media, where feedback-both positive and negative-is given quickly and frequently, it is important that your kid learns to view criticism objectively. Questions you might ask to help assess this include:

  • How did you react the last time someone told you they didn't like something about your behavior?
  • What do you do when you come across an opinion online that you disagree with?

How does your kid react to conflict?
Conflict is a natural part of human interaction and can arise quickly, especially in digital communication. An emotionally mature kid can recognize conflict and respond appropriately without escalating the situation. They stay calm, try to understand the other person's perspective, and look for a solution that ends the conflict or at least does not make it worse. Think about how your kid reacts in heated situations:

  • How would you react if you disagreed with someone online?
  • What do you do when you see your friends arguing, online or in person?

Does your kid know how to empathize?
Empathy is the ability to understand the emotions of others and respond appropriately. This is especially important on platforms where communication is often text-based and can easily lead to misunderstandings. An empathetic kid can imagine how their words will be received online and adjust their communication accordingly to avoid misunderstandings and harm. Here are some aspects to explore:

  • How do you think others feel when they are criticized online?
  • Can you give an example of how you've helped someone online who was feeling bad?

Cognitive Maturity

Cognitive maturity is also critical to the safe use of social media. It includes your kid's ability to understand and process information, including an awareness of what content is appropriate for the public and what should remain private. Responsible use of social media also includes understanding that not everything online is truthful and leaves lasting traces.

The following questions and considerations can help you assess these issues:

Does your kid understand the concepts of privacy and data protection?
Cognitive maturity includes understanding and being responsible with one's own information. Your kid should know why it is important not to share personal information publicly and how to adjust their social media privacy settings to protect themselves. Here are some questions to help you assess your kid's understanding of privacy and data protection:

  • Why do you think it's not a good idea to share your address or phone number online?
  • Do you know how to change the privacy settings on your social media accounts so that only your friends can see your posts?

Can your kid tell the difference between real and fake information?
In the digital age, it is critical that your kid learns to critically question information and evaluate the credibility of sources. Many platforms are full of misinformation and half-truths that can be difficult for young users to spot. Your kid should be able to separate fact from opinion and know how to find trustworthy sources. To assess this, you might ask:

  • How do you decide whether a message or article on the Internet is true?
  • Can you think of a time when you read something online and then checked to see if it was true?

How aware is your kid of the consequences of their actions?
Kids need to understand that their online activities can leave a lasting mark. A post shared thoughtlessly today can have negative consequences years later. Your kid needs to understand the long-term consequences of their online behavior and act with caution. Here are some considerations and questions to help you assess your kid's awareness of the consequences of their actions:

  • What do you think might happen if you post an embarrassing photo of yourself online?
  • Did you know that future employers or colleges might be looking at your social media profiles? How would you feel if they saw certain posts of yours?


Assessing your kid's emotional and cognitive maturity is critical to deciding if they are ready for social media. These factors are far more important than simply reaching a certain age. They help ensure that your kid is ready to responsibly navigate the challenges and opportunities of the digital world.

In the next and final part of this series, we will show you how you and your kid can make a safe and responsible start in the world of social media. Stay tuned!