What Parents Need to Know About Online Games for Teens

If your teen or tween is gaming online, chances are they’re playing “multiplayer” games. Whether they’re shooting hoops in the virtual NBA, building and defending virtual worlds in Minecraft, or fighting to be the last person standing in a Fortnite Battle Royale, multiplayer gaming lets kids play and compete with others—both friends they know and folks they’ve never met. Here’s what parents need to know to feel secure about adolescents engaging in multiplayer games.

Teen playing multiplayer game on a computer with headphones

What are multiplayer games?

Simply put, a multiplayer game is an online video game that lets your child interact with other players. In these games, kids play competitively, cooperatively, or as companions in complex interactive worlds and challenges. 

Most games played online today involve at least some interaction. That means that when your tween or teen is gaming, chances are high that they’re playing with others: both friends they know, and other players around the world. Often, teens are also chatting with (or yelling at!) friends while they play, through a game’s chat function or on separate apps like Discord, or both. 

  • A multiplayer role-playing game (RPG) lets your kid create and develop a character (or avatar), and navigate with other avatars through a game world. 
  • Massively multiplayer online RPGs (MMORPGs) are RPGs on steroids: they offer a massive, online immersive experience that continuously evolves and expands to keep players engaged. 

Why do teenagers like to play online games?

In a nutshell, multiplayer games are fun, and they’re social: these games are so popular with teens and tweens because they like playing and interacting with friends.

How can online gaming benefit children?

Dig a little deeper, the and what’s clear is that online gaming helps adolescents meet some basic psychological needs: 

  • Video games can help teens feel competent. They pose just-hard-enough challenges to keep kids engaged and practising skills, to problem solve and to master tasks, and they provide constant feedback so the kids learn how to succeed.
  • Video games can give teens a much-needed sense of autonomy as they choose games, create avatars, design and build their ideal environments, and choose how and when to interact with selected peers.
  • Teens use games as a way to fulfil a deep human need for connection. Gaming is simply a huge part of the way kids socialize today: In the same way that their parents used to hang out at the mall or the schoolyard, or spend hours on the phone, our kids are hanging out with each other in virtual worlds. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, multiplayer gaming provided one of the only safe spaces for teens to hang out.
  • Multiplayer games provide safe spaces for kids having trouble fitting in at home or at school, or who are grappling with shifting identities. They can try on avatars and make up and experiment with different versions of themselves. In this way, gaming spaces can be a lifeline for youth—often especially for young people who identify as LGBTQ+ or nonbinary.

Looking to teach your kids healthier video game habits? Read our parents guide to video games for teens.

So, what are the kids playing these days? With literally thousands of games on the market, and with new ones and upgrades added constantly, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to play. Here are a few of the most popular multiplayer online games that are rated generally appropriate for teens:

  • Among Us: In this party-style game of deception, up to 10 players work together as cartoon crew members aboard a spaceship in urgent need of repairs. The catch: one or more players are actually murderous aliens, and players must try to figure out who the imposters are before they kill everyone on board.
  • Apex Legends: In this battle royale–style shooter game, players compete to be the last fighter standing in a post-war, interplanetary frontier ruled by chaos.
  • Fortnite Battle Royale: In this fast-paced, action-packed survival game, 100 players combat each other to be the last one standing. Players collect weapons, build safe structures, and try to avoid getting damaged by the Storm.
  • Minecraft: Players explore a virtually infinite, three-dimensional world, discovering and extracting raw materials, crafting tools and items, and using building blocks to create pretty much anything they need. They may also fight computer-controlled mobs and collaborate or compete with other players.
  • NBA 2K22: A classic basketball simulation game.
  • Rocket League: Soccer, but with rocket-powered cars.
  • Subnautica: After their spaceship, the Aurora, crashes on alien ocean planet 4546B, players must survive—and eventually find their way back home—by collecting resources, taming wild aquatic creatures, and constructing tools, bases, and submersibles.
  • Valorant: In this first-person shooter game set in the near future, two small teams are pitted against each other: one side aims to plant a “spike” bomb, while the other side aims to thwart that goal or defuse the bomb.

Learn more: The parents’ guide to Roblox.

Two teenage boys playing a multiplayer game together

Online gaming safety tips for teens

Online gaming offers lots of benefits, and also poses some risks. Here are some of the top online gaming safety concerns that parents should be mindful of:

  • Privacy risks: Online games by definition let kids play and chat with gamers around the world, sometimes dozens or hundreds of people at a time. This can potentially put kids’ privacy at risk, or expose them to malware or risky links in games’ chat functions.
  • Inappropriate content: Teens and tween may encounter inappropriate content, including cursing; racist, sexist, or homophobic remarks; or other offensive content. 
  • Bullying or “griefing”: Other gamers might insult or get angry at a teammate who makes a mistake, gang up on or kill a player within a game, or exclude kids from a game.
  • Unintended purchases: Many, if not most, games provide opportunities to buy extra elements during the game. Kids may spend more money than they mean to, or more than you feel is appropriate. They may not even know that they’ve made a purchase— until it shows up on your credit card.
  • Health risks: Using digital devices a lot can strain the eyes, cause neck and shoulder pain, or contribute to conditions like repetitive strain disorders or carpal tunnel syndrome. Kids who game a lot may have less time for healthy activities like exercise, and may sacrifice sleep for play.
  • Gaming addiction: In very rare cases, your teen or tween may become “addicted” to gaming, neglecting school, family, health, and friends in order to play online as much as possible, and escaping into the world of games in order to avoid real-life challenges. And even if your child isn’t clinically addicted to gaming, it can still feel as though they’re playing too much, at the expense of other healthy activities.

Fortunately, most of these risks can be mitigated.

Parental controls for multiplayer games

Most gaming consoles, platforms and games come with parental controls that let parents set digital boundaries. Parental controls can allow parents to:

  • Stay in charge of the types of games kids can play
  • Manage whether kids can communicate with others online, and with whom 
  • Prevent or require parental permission for in-app or in-game purchases, and limit the amount of time or the hours during which kids can play on a device. 

Talking to your kids about online gaming

Parental controls are only part of the equation. One of the best things that parents can do is talk to teens and tweens regularly about the importance of privacy, internet etiquette, and balancing gaming with other activities. Here are some helpful online gaming talking points to have with your children:

  • Privacy: Tween and teen gamers should know not to give out personal information or share photos with (or open files from) anyone online. They should know not to chat with strangers outside of the game on social media email or other platforms, and not to meet up with people who approach them online. 
  • Bullying: It’s easy to get caught up in the drama and excitement of gaming. But that doesn’t mean that feelings can’t be hurt. Talk to your kids about the importance of treating people respectfully and the dangers of bullying, and consider having them game in a public part of the house, without headsets, so that you can see and hear what’s going on.
  • Health risks and addictive behaviours: Set limits on the amount of time your team or tween can play—and then stick to them. Encourage your child to take regular breaks during play, to find active and outdoor activities to complement gaming, and to separate gaming from snacking. Tie gaming to the completion of homework, chores, and other responsibilities, and consider implementing “screen-free” hours or evenings as part of your family’s regular time together.

Multiplayer gaming can be a fun and fantastic way for teens and tweens to socialize and blow off steam. With the right and boundaries in place, parents can help set up kids for success, online and in real life.

How parents can better manage in-game purchases

The Mydoh app can help parents and their teens manage money with complete oversight. Parents receive notifications when their kids use the Smart Card to make purchases like online gaming subscriptions, in-app purchases, and more. Parents can have peace of mind knowing they can see where their kids are spending. Mydoh provides teachable moments that can help kids and teens develop the many skills they’ll need in an increasingly digital future.

Download the Mydoh app to help your tweens/teens gain real-world experience and manage their spending. 

The Parents Guide to Helping Your Teen Get a Job

It happens to every parent: At some point, your precious bundle of joy becomes a teen. And then, along with the deep sighs, eye rolls, and soul-crushing lack of tolerance for your jokes, they’ll likely be looking for a way to earn more than the allowance and Tooth Fairy deposits that once thrilled them as a kid. 

That means they’re going to have to get a job.

Of course, teaching teens the next stage in money management will mean they need a bit more money to manage, and their first job can help them earn it.

Though it can be a bit of an emotional parenting roller-coaster, watching your teen land their first job can be exciting. Kids earning their own money aren’t just getting new work experience—they are also learning to make smarter spending decisions and develop key skills that will serve them well in whatever career path they choose. 

Bonus: Biweekly paycheques can also mean less pressure on the parental wallet. Win-win!

But deciding they want to earn some extra cash and securing a job that will provide it are two different things. Helping teens bridge that gap is a great opportunity for parents and their kids to navigate some important questions together.

This guide will point you both in the right direction and offer some ideas for setting your kids up for success with the money, values, skills, and experiences to help you raise that self-sufficient, happy, responsible adult you’re hoping for.

When should my teenager get their first job?

A recent Harris Poll found that most parents think kids should get their first job around the age of 15. But age isn’t the only factor at play: Your child’s maturity level, interest in employment, and time-competing extracurriculars should also be taken into consideration.

Another thing to keep in mind is the teen labour laws of your province, as they vary across the country. Check out the rules for youth employment in your province.

Hints your teen is ready for their first job 

At some point, your teen will be ready to start looking for work. The clues that your teen is ready to move on from you as their employer may be explicit (“You’re the worst boss ever, Mom!”) or implicit (finishing chores easily or skipping out altogether). Other signs that your kid is ready for their first job:

  • Wanting to purchase a big-ticket item that is more want versus need
  • Complaints that their allowance is too small
  • A desire to have more autonomy over the way their money is spent
  • The realization that peers pay their own way for outings and hoping to do the same
  • Having a business idea they want to bring to fruition 

Why is it important to get a job as a teenager?

Maybe you’re the one who’s decided it’s time for your kid to find a paying gig. Here are the top reasons you might want your teen to get job: 

  • It’s a chance for them to develop new skills
  • You want them to learn that hard work and income go hand in hand
  • It’s time for them to start their own savings for post-secondary education
  • First jobs present a chance to be exposed to a chosen career path
  • They need to improve their money management skills
  • A work schedule will reduce their screen time during the summer 

How parents can prepare teenagers for their first job

You might be surprised to learn what your kids think their first job will be like. (Hint: a corner office and an assistant are unlikely.) Help them manage expectations by sharing personal anecdotes from your working life and suggesting the best jobs for teenagers before starting their search.

Start at home

If your child is younger, their first job might be at home. From a very young age, kids can contribute to household chores and general upkeep. Adding an allowance method for specific tasks and beginning conversations around saving and spending can help them understand the value of money.

Tell them about your first job

Sharing your experiences and the emotions that came with your first job (being nervous at the start, making long-lasting friendships along the way, or finally mastering the fry cooker) might relieve some of the anxiety your teen is feeling. Be careful not to suggest that what you did for your first job is the only option available to them. Leave room for them to come up with options that best suit their personalities.

Remind them that it wasn’t your last job

For older kids, the pressure in high school to find a career can weigh heavily as they seek out their first jobs. Help them see the value any job can provide (learning what they’re good at, building friendships, and gaining new skill sets). Let them know that their first summer or part-time job isn’t the same thing as a career choice.

Think big, but aim small

Sometimes the job your kid is dreaming of for their future simply isn’t available to them (supreme court judge, for example, isn’t likely at 16). But seeking out a job in the same environment as their ultimate ambition (like a mail clerk at a law firm) offers a chance to see what that work might be like. Have a teen who thinks they’d love to be in tech? Teaching at a coding camp could give them a sense of whether they’d enjoy it.

Share the truth about paycheques

Talk about the realities of minimum wage, tax requirements, and working for tips. Knowing what they can expect to make will go a long way toward helping your teen narrow down the best job options and manage expectations about what they’ll earn and how long it will take to save for the new phone they’ve been coveting.

Read more: How to read and understand a pay stub.

teen girl on video interview

7 ways parents can help their teenager get their first job 

A teen’s first attempts to seek out employment can leave them frustrated and overwhelmed. The good news is that you can offer guidance without taking over. Here’s how you can help your kid get their first job:

1. Identify their motivation

Are they trying to build up a cache of gas money? Save for a car? Pitch in on some hockey equipment? Having a goal in place will keep them focused on their success.

2. Help them see themselves

A strong sense of identity will help kids figure out which job opportunities are the best fit. You can support them in identifying and listing key areas of interest.

  • What do they like to do? Sports? Art? Music? Finding jobs that include elements of things they already enjoy will keep work interesting.
  • What are their strengths and weaknesses? Realizing they are talented organizers but not morning people may suggest certain jobs (stockroom clerk) over others (coffee shop barista).
  • What are skills they’d love to hone? Public speaking? Maintaining their athleticism? Maybe there are opportunities to get paid while they do so.
  • What kind of environment do they thrive in? Help them understand whether they like rising to the challenge of competition or would excel in a more collegial space.
  • How much time do they have to dedicate to a job? Teens need to explore whether they want a full-time gig or something that’s just a few hours a week. They should also take into account other activities they have on the go and if they’d need to give them up in order to work. 

Based on your findings, you can help your teen brainstorm a list of potential jobs that will let them be their best selves. 

3. Introduce them to the tools they’ll need

It takes time to get a resume and cover letter just right. If your teen isn’t sure what to include in their resume, this guide on how to write a resume (with examples) can help. Your teen may also want to include a personalized cover letter with their application.

4. Help them prepare for their first interview

Your teen might be asked to interview on the spot after asking for an application. You can help them prepare for their first interview by offering tips (don’t forget to make eye contact!), helping them rehearse their introductions and role-playing with common interview questions

Teens should also have a few questions in their pocket that they can ask a potential boss if prompted. Finally, help them make a list of any important information (like the driving test that’s already booked and will require a day off) their employer should know about right away. 

Read more about how to prepare for your first interview as a teenager

5. Share tips on workplace etiquette

Offer advice on how to be a good employee, like showing up early, dressing appropriately (peek at the company’s website for hints), proper online behaviour at work, and the importance of being courteous. Reputations will last longer than their summer employment, and building relationships they can rely on in the future can be quite valuable.   

6. Release the reins

Getting their first job means your teen has a new boss to answer to, so your role needs to shift from saviour to supporter. Be a reliable listener—resisting the urge to provide solutions to their problems—and your child will feel like they have a safe person to turn to with their concerns. You’ll want to leave any actual negotiations around at-work issues to them to execute: This will help them build problem-solving and interpersonal skills.

Read more about teaching negotiation skills

7. Talk to them about safety

Be clear with your teen about the importance of a safe work environment. If they feel like the workplace is unsafe (physically or mentally), they should have your support in speaking up. Run through the scenario at home to help them feel comfortable enough to independently share their concerns with their boss or co-worker.    

How to get a job without experience

Many teens face the challenge of seeking first-time employment without ever having worked before. Help ease their mind with advice and reassurance that it is, in fact, possible. Here are some ways they can achieve their goal:

Start the job search early 

The job market could be fierce, and teens may find themselves in competition with much more qualified candidates. Encourage them to start applying early for seasonal work and be prepared to send out more than one application.

Lean on relationships

Networking may sound intimidating to some kids, but it’s really just about getting to know people. Encourage your teens to build genuine connections with people in their community that work in areas they care about. Help them find the right words to let those people know they are looking for employment by sharing networking tips.

Check in with places they’ve volunteered

These are places where their work ethic is already a proven entity—ditto for co-op placements they’ve completed or community organizations they frequent. There is no harm in asking if there are paid opportunities available.

Read more: What high school students need to know about volunteer opportunities.

Leverage the skills they already have 

Were they reliable members of their baseball team? Did they show leadership skills on the yearbook committee? Teens should think about how those skills relate to the work they’re applying for, include them on their resume, and mention them in interviews.

How to help teens cope with job rejection

Being turned down is part of the job search process. Even after your teen has secured a job, things won’t always go as planned (probationary periods are there for a reason). For teens who aren’t used to job rejection, talking about it can be tough and managing the emotions around it tougher still.

This game plan can help you support your child while they navigate these hurdles.

  • Acknowledge the pain of rejection. Not getting what we want isn’t fun. Feeling bad about it is normal and expected.
  • Offer space to grieve. Back away from your instinct to smother your teen’s injured ego with non-stop banter. Instead, offer them time to think about it independently and resume the conversation when they say they’re ready.
  • Review and reflect. Even bad jobs have learning opportunities. Prompt them to consider what they learned, what they wish they’d known before accepting this job, what they might have done differently, and if there were any red flags they missed during the application process.
  • Encourage resilience. Finding another job won’t necessarily be easier than finding the first one, but your child is in a different position. They’ve done this before and survived. Reassure them of their capabilities.
A teen boy working part-time as a coffee barista

The best jobs for teenagers 

Some jobs just have “teenager” written all over them. These entry-level positions are often easiest to secure, offer some flexibility in terms of timing, and are ready to train the right candidates. Some even come with perks, like discounts, that may help offset other costs. Depending on your teen’s interests and talents, one of these options might be the perfect first job: 

  • Food service (dishwasher, server, busser, cashier, host, cook)
  • Babysitting (note that taking a certified course or having your CPR training will help)
  • Lawn service (lawn-cutting service or as part of a landscaping team)
  • Retail associate (shelf stocker, cashier)
  • Theme park worker (office staff, concessionaire)
  • Camp counsellor (day or overnight camp)
  • Sports staff (golf course caddy, tennis academy assistant, coaching assistant on a kids’ team, lifeguard, swim instructor)
  • Community centre (program assistant, front desk clerk, maintenance staff)
  • Events and entertainment (movie theatre usher, concert concession stand worker, ticket seller)
  • Library assistant or clerk
  • Long-term care staff (dining room assistant, cleaner) 

Read more about the best summer jobs for teens and 14 best part-time jobs for teens.

Remote schooling and online gaming mean that many teens are more comfortable online than their parents are. That’s a skill that can be put to use! Online jobs offer teens the option of working from home and more control over some of the anxiety-provoking factors of an on-site job. A few to consider:

  • Tutoring services
  • Data entry
  • Website or social media management
  • Customer service or telemarketing
  • E-commerce enterprises (including starting their own business!)

Read more about how to make money online as a kid

Where teenagers can look for their first jobs

Job opportunities are everywhere once you know where to look. Sharing some ideas with your teen will get the ball rolling, and soon enough they’ll see them too. These resources can help get you started:

  • Job boards at the places they frequent, such as coffee shops, and gaming and other stores
  • Hiring signs in store windows
  • Posters on utility poles asking for help with odd jobs
  • Community spaces (seniors centres, community centres, daycares) 
  • Social media. Teens should feel empowered to ask for hiring info from accounts they follow.
  • Government programs. Check back often to see available programs and opportunities.
  • LinkedIn. Help your teen set up a profile and job search criteria. They’ll be notified if something is a potential match.
  • School. Guidance counsellors and co-op teachers often have leads on community organizations that could use extra help.
  • Friends. If someone your kid knows has a job they love, encourage them to ask how to apply.

Mydoh helps prepare your teenager for their first job with real-world experience

Earning money is only the first step in developing the skills necessary to become money smart. The next step is to help your teen understand its value and how to manage it best. That’s where Mydoh can help.

Mydoh is a money management app and Smart Cash Card made for families. The app’s features are geared toward helping them save and spend responsibly—skills that will prepare them for real-world earning while also leaving room for parents to support and encourage their growth.

Plus, with the app, parents and teens learn how to be better money managers. You don’t have to be a financial whiz or tech-savvy, just willing to learn—together.

Money mission accomplished

Once your kids are earning, they’re learning. Whether it’s how to manage a demanding boss or why bringing their lunch from home will get them to their saving target faster, they’ll be developing habits that will lead to important financial skills. Best of all, as their ally on the road to financial fitness, you’ll be helping them learn to navigate the world of work and providing the tools that will help them reap more from their own efforts.

Download the Mydoh app to help your teens gain real-world experience as they prepare for their first jobs.

What Parents Need to Know About Twitter

Twitter has been around for 17 years—making it one of the original platforms for social media. Originally known as the “SMS of the internet,” it was instantly popular among celebrities (Who remembers Ashton Kutcher being the first person to reach 1 million users way back in 2009?) Twitter remains a popular platform for anyone to share small snippets of information in 280 characters or fewer, as long as they have a Twitter account. 

But with thoughts being so easily and instantly shareable, there could be some privacy and security concerns about the app. So, if your tween or teen is using Twitter or wants to create an account, here’s what you need to know. 

What is Twitter?

Twitter is commonly known as a social media and microblogging site where thoughts can be shared instantly. However, it has a limit of 280 characters per tweet. The platform is popular with celebrities, news channels, entertainment, activists, politicians, businesses, and anyone who wants to share news or contribute to a conversation. It also allows for quick sharing of news through “retweets,” which instantly shares a tweet by someone else.

What is the minimum age for Twitter?

Users must be 13 or older to open an account.  

How does Twitter work?

Twitter allows users to sign up for free with an email or phone number. Users see a homepage once they are signed in, also known as the “feed.” The feed lets users view tweets of people they are following and “retweet” someone else’s tweet. Alternatively, Twitter users can like or reply to other people’s tweets as well. 

Twitter is the platform that started the trend of hashtags. Hashtags are used on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and even LinkedIn to follow and discover content on a specific topic. For example, if you type “#Mydoh” on Twitter, any content related to Mydoh will appear if someone else has tweeted using the same hashtag. 

Based on your kids’ interests, they can follow other people or brands on Twitter. There is also the “Explore” tab that allows tweens and teens to view tweets and hashtags that are trending.

What is Twitter used for?

The primary use of Twitter is for people to share their thoughts with a larger audience. Some people may treat it as a personal diary and tweet constantly about their day, while others use it to test their comedic writing with funny tweets or pictures. News channels, brands, celebrities, and influencers use the app to tweet about their upcoming events, music, movies and interact with their fans and followers. Essentially, Twitter is one big microblogging site for people to share their thoughts instantly and succinctly. 

What type of content is on Twitter?

Celebrities use the platform to share their upcoming events, music, and/or movies and do Q&A sessions with their fans. News channels use the platform to report news and articles, and entrepreneurs share their business journeys. Regular folks use the app to interact with other people, share their thoughts, ideas, or a funny meme or two.

To better understand how Twitter works, here is an overview of its content and where you can find them on the platform:

  • Home: This is the front page of Twitter once you log in. Here is where users see all the tweets and retweets of people they follow and a few from suggested accounts to follow. 
  • Tweets: Tweets are the messages a user will see on their homepage. They are no more than 280 characters long and have tiny icons below them that allow your tween or teen to like, retweet (reshare instantly on their profile), or reply to that particular tweet. 
  • #Explore page: Based on a user’s location, this page shows what is trending in their country or city. It can also be changed to see what is trending worldwide. It often shows the top 10 hashtags used that are trending at the moment. These usually revolved around world events, music or movie releases, funny incidents, or popular events. 
  • Messages: Twitter allows users to directly message people they are following. It is not always possible that the person you message will reply. While this tool is largely used for customer service pages, random people could also message your teen. Unlike most other social media apps, there is no option to call or video call the person. However, Twitter can still be used to send images. 
  • Bookmarks: This section allows users to see any tweets they may have bookmarked. 
  • Topics: Users can choose to follow topics based on their interests. This section will suggest topics for you to follow based on tweet activity, but also includes entertainment, sports, outdoors, music, and gaming to choose from. 
A mother and daughter looking at a Twitter feed together on a phone

Is Twitter safe for kids?

As with any online platform, it is important to understand the safety and potential risks of Twitter. Social media tips for parents can be especially useful in this regard. While Twitter allows people who are 13 years or older to sign up for the platform, otherwise, a user will be locked out and require parental consent. However, this age restriction can be easily surpassed, as it is not verified. Therefore, it is important to ensure that if your kid wants to open a Twitter account, you’re there when they sign up. 

Looking for more social media parenting tips? Read our parents guide to Snapchat, an introduction to Clubhouse for parents, and is WhatsApp safe for kids.

How can I monitor my kids’ activity on Twitter?

Given that Twitter is a platform that allows easy sharing of thoughts and ideas, there are a few ways parents can help keep their kids’ profiles protected from people they don’t know or follow:

  • Go into the “Safety and Privacy Settings” of your child’s account
  • Tick “Protect your tweets” as this ensures that only people who follow you can see your tweets
  • Select “only people you follow” on Photo Tagging to ensure that no strangers can tag your kids in photos
  • Untick “Receive message requests” to avoid messages from strangers
  • Untick “Connect with Periscope” to disable going live
  • Untick “Let others find you using email” or “Let others find you using phone number”
  • Untick “Display media that may contain sensitive content”

Twitter’s effects on children’s mental health

Social media has become a part of our lives, and it is important to keep in mind the effects of social media use on younger children and teens. Extensive use of social media may lead to mental health issues, such as anxiety, body image issues, or aggressive behaviour. Setting social media boundaries for kids and teenagers is another essential step to consider. 

The best way to ensure that Twitter is a safe space for your kids is by protecting their tweets. Doing so helps avoid strangers, trolls, or unknown people liking or commenting on their tweets. It restricts content to only people who follow your child—these should be people your tween or teen already knows. This can help limit or avoid any form of cyberbullying, which may affect your kids’ mental health. 

If the “Display media that is sensitive” box is left unchecked on Twitter, it might expose your kids to inappropriate content or traumatizing news. Have conversations with your kids and ask them to flag any inappropriate content they come across or talk to you about it.  

As with many other social media apps, it’s easy for teens to get influenced by the content other people post and how their lives appear. Following influencers, celebrities, and even some friends can possibly make them feel like their lives are dull or not fun. In these situations, it is important to have discussions with your children about how what’s posted on social media is often the “highlight reel” and the importance of living in the present moment. 

How can I use Twitter with my kids?

Twitter can actually be a fun and educational platform for you and your kids to use together. As part of setting boundaries around social media use, make sure you follow each other on Twitter. Parents can also follow the same people and accounts as their kids. 

You can use the platform to tweet or share funny memes and discuss topics you came across on Twitter with them in person. Bookmark tweets to have discussions about later. This helps to make Twitter a social media platform that can be productive and fun for tweens and teens. 

Twitter and online safety

Twitter is a relatively safe site and can be monitored through the privacy settings. The major safety concern would be your kids’ communication with others through comments to their tweets, along with direct messages. Therefore, it’s important to have a discussion around the safety and kids digital privacy concerns of Twitter with your tweens:

  • Never reveal personal information such as an address, phone number, school, password or any information about their parents
  • Think before posting a tweet—even though tweets can be deleted, another user may have already taken a screenshot first
  • Always alert you if someone they do not know has somehow contacted them on Twitter
  • Encourage your kids to talk to you if they ever feel threatened, bullied, or are receiving unwanted attention on Twitter
  • Emphasize that you are always available to talk with your tweens and teens about anything

Young kids and teens are all about keeping up with the latest trends online, and Twitter is a great source of ensuring they can do so. Therefore, you and your kids must understand both the pros and cons of using social media platforms like Twitter. 

It’s never to early to have conversations with your child

To ensure that your kids are using social media responsibly, you can begin to introduce smart decision-making early on in their lives. Begin by involving them in small chores at home, exposing them to money management by downloading money apps for kids like Mydoh, and having open conversations with them about the digital world. 

Download Mydoh today and begin having important money conversations at home with your kids and teens.

The Pros and Cons of Chores and Allowance

Allowance is just as much of a rite of passage for the parents dishing it out as it is for the kid receiving it. Not only does it mean that children will taste the freedom that comes with spending their own money, but giving an allowance is also a great way to teach hands-on financial literacy, life skills, responsibility, and money management. It’s a pretty big milestone. 

How much you give and whether you give a weekly allowance or a monthly allowance will vary from family to family, by budget, and by age. Allowance and chores often go hand in hand and may hit the sweet spot for tweens and teens as a way to make money. Just like a job, the more hours they put in, the greater the earnings.

To help you decide what’s right for your family, let’s deep-dive into the different types of allowances, why kids should have an allowance, easy ways to manage them, and the pros and cons. 

New to Mydoh? Mydoh is a digital wallet and Smart Cash Card for kids and teens. Kids can use it to earn money through tasks and make purchases in-store or online. Parents can monitor spending and activities. Mydoh teaches kids responsible money management and smart financial decisions. Download Mydoh and start your free trial.

What is a kid allowance?

In the simplest of terms, allowances are payouts to a child based on either a set amount with no strings attached or on doing chores suited to their age. Sometimes an allowance is built on a hybrid system (we’ll cover that more in a minute), but at its core, it’s a practical way for children to grasp spending, saving, earning and budgeting.

Who invented allowances?

There’s no clear history on when allowances began. The idea of giving children a weekly or monthly allowance was popularized in parenting expert and writer Sidonie Matsner Gruenberg’s 1912 book Your Child: Today and Tomorrow, in which she touted the notion of an allowance as a way to help kids understand how to spend money.

Teen girl standing at sink washing orange dish.

The 3 allowance types for kids and teenagers

It’s important to understand the difference between allowance formats before choosing which one will work for your family. Here are the three main allowance types:

1. Pure allowance

Straight up, with no conditions, this option is pure and simple money that you give to your child at a regular frequency. Generally, your child takes part in the household chores and responsibilities, but payment isn’t attached to the tasks. 

Pure allowance is: 

  • Easy to manage and hand out, since the amount stays the same 
  • Simple because there’s no need to oversee chores, responsibilities, or extra “rates” for completing more tasks

2. Allowance and chores

A chore-based allowance is the most job-like. A child performs tasks and earns their money when they’re done. These may be daily chores or weekly chores and can include making the bed, walking the dog, vacuuming, and helping with meal prep. Chore-based allowances can also take on a choose-your-own-adventure format, where kids might complete additional jobs for a set price. 

Chore-based allowances are: 

  • A great way to segue into learning about responsibility and working for what you want 
  • An easy way for kids to learn the value of a dollar and the work that goes into earning it 
  • A fun challenge, especially when there are additional chores to complete for extra money 

Learn more about building a chore-based allowance by reading our allowance guide for parents

3. Hybrid allowance

Think of a hybrid allowance as the best of both worlds: Your child receives a base rate each week that isn’t tethered to any chore or expectation, but they have the potential to up the earnings with extra jobs. Under a corporate lens, a hybrid allowance looks like a base rate with the opportunity to make a commission. 

Hybrid allowances are: 

  • Good for challenging kids to set goals and go above and beyond expectations 
  • A great way to remove some of the performance-based pressure associated with chore-based allowances 
  • The perfect opportunity to create a flexible workload, especially important if your child has a packed academic or extracurricular schedule 

Still not sure which allowance type is best for your family? Read more about the best allowance method for kids and teenagers

A father showing his kids the chore list board

Tip: Use one of our free printable chore charts to help your kids keep track of upcoming tasks.

The pros and cons of giving an allowance

Why kids should have an allowance and whether they should get one is up to your family values and kid’s disposition. Here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding on an allowance strategy:

Pros of an allowance for kids

  • It teaches responsibility, including how to complete a job well and how to manage money.
  • Allowance opens up the conversation for financial literacy, bank accounts, savings, and even tax. Some parents put aside a small percentage of their child’s allowance for things like charitable giving or savings. 
  • It prepares kids for the workforce with knowledge of working for pay and an understanding of their worth. 
  • Getting an allowance encourages good money habits and budgeting. A kid won’t know how to spend money if they don’t have money. Allowances are great for small treats, savings goals, and understanding the consequences of impulse buys. 

Cons of an allowance for kids

  • A pure allowance has the potential to create a sense of entitlement. If your child isn’t earning for work completed, they may come to expect money for nothing. 
  • Giving allowance for chores means money could become a motivator for kids. This drive isn’t all bad, but money isn’t everything, and it’s not the only reason they should help someone or complete a task. 
  • It can create pushback. A strings-attached mentality can arise from chores if your child sees a price tag attached to everything they do. Part of being in a family is pitching in, so an allowance may blur those lines. 

Not sure how much allowance to give your kids? Use our allowance calculator.

Mydoh Smart Cash Card helps kids spend and save their allowance

Once you’re ready to start, a chores and allowance app will come in handy. Mydoh is a secure and family-friendly app that operates on the chore-based allowance system. With no need to fumble for change, parents can log in to their account to load funds, add tasks, track chores, and make payouts every Saturday on Pay Day (another great way to teach budgeting). 

Kids and teens can access their own special login to manage their tasks, see their payouts, and use their digital Smart Cash Card on real-world purchases in-store or online, wherever Visa is accepted.

Download Mydoh to help your kids earn, learn and spend with guidance and oversight.

In-App Purchases: What Are They and How Can I Turn Them Off?

Hey, parents: Ever opened a credit card statement only to find $167 in unexplained charges to the App Store or Google Play? Yeah, us too. And it’s not fun. Unfortunately, it can often be much too easy for kids to buy things on their (or our) devices with our hard-earned money. Often, they don’t even know they’re doing it—until the bill arrives. 

Welcome to the world of in-app purchases! It’s essential for parents and kids to know what in-apps are, how they work, and how to make smart(er) decisions about them. Just because an app is free doesn’t mean that it won’t cost you anything. In-app purchases can add up quickly. Here’s what you and your kids need to know.

What does in-app purchase mean?

An in-app purchase is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: buying goods or services from inside an application (like a video game or a meditation program) on your smartphone, tablet, or other mobile devices.

In-app purchases might let you level up more quickly in a game, get access to premium content or features, or enjoy an ad-free version of the app. For example, your kid might want to buy a $4.99 pack of coins in Pokémon GO in order to be able to evolve their Pokémon faster or spend money on V-Bucks to purchase Fortnite skins. 

Sounds straightforward, right? Pay a bit of money in order to enhance your enjoyment or use of an app. And, in moderation, in-app purchases can be a harmless way to have a bit of fun. 

How much are in-app purchases?

Some in-app purchases can be as cheap as $0.99 while others can be as expensive as $99.99. They can also be a one-time purchase or a subscription. There is no set price for an in-app purchase, it all depends on what the company wants to charge for that specific item or service.

What are the risks of in-app purchases?

Problems can arise, though, when kids (and adults!) lose track of how much they’re spending or don’t know that they’re spending money in the first place. And that can happen quickly. The App Store and Google Play keep customers’ credit or debit cards on file. Often, in-app purchases can be charged directly to those cards without alerting the cardholder or asking for the card number or a password. 

That’s when things can get dicey: imagine that your child is playing their favourite game when a pop-up window invites them to click “yes” in order to finish, unlock a new character, or level up. Kids can easily agree and click—often without understanding that they’ve just spent real money. If left unchecked, those charges can add up quickly.

Learn more: How to help kids and teens avoid impulse buying.

In-app purchases are big business

That $167 mystery charge on your credit card statement is just a tiny drop in the vast ocean of in-app revenue. According to ZDNET, in 2020, users spent $380 billion on in-app purchases around the globe, and revenue from mobile apps is estimated to reach $935 billion by 2023

What’s more, the vast majority of apps are free to download. In fact, 98 per cent of Google Play’s revenue comes from free apps. So, when your kid begs you to let them download a “free” game, you can be pretty sure that a “free” game has the potential to cost you down the line.

If you’re feeling sheepish about the fact that you had no idea that your kid was racking up charges—go easy on yourself. The problem is so widespread that, in 2019, more than a dozen children’s and consumer advocacy organizations requested that the United States Federal Trade Commission investigate Facebook for deceptive practices targeting kids.

How do I turn off or prevent in-app purchases?

Fortunately, you can limit your kid’s (and your own) ability to make in-app purchases.

How do I disable in-app purchases on Android:

  • Open the Google Play store.
  • Tap the menu button in the upper left corner.
  • Select “Settings.”
  • Tap “Require Authentication for Purchases.”
  • Select “For all purchases through Google Play on this device.”

How do I disable in-app purchases on iPhone or iPad:

On iOS devices (iPhones, iPods, iPads), you can use the Screen Time feature to simply turn off the ability to make in-app purchases.

  • Go to “Settings,” and tap “Screen Time.” If you haven’t done so already, turn on Screen Time and follow the prompts to set up your own and your child’s devices.
  • Tap “Content & Privacy Restrictions.” Enter your passcode if you’re asked to, and turn on “Content and Privacy.”
  • Tap “iTunes & App Store Purchases.”
  • Tap “In-app Purchases” and set it to “Don’t Allow.”

How do I enable “Ask to Buy” on an iPhone or iPad?

If you don’t want to refuse every in-app purchase automatically, you can use Apple’s Ask to Buy feature. This lets kids send a request to buy or download a new item to a parent. According to Apple, families can use Ask to Buy after they set up Family Sharing, and the family organizer can turn on the feature for any family member under age 18. 

To set up Ask to Buy:

  • Open “Settings.”
  • Tap your name.
  • Tap “Family Sharing.”
  • Tap “Ask to Buy.”
  • Tap your child’s name and then use the toggle to turn on “Ask to Buy.”

If you let your kids use your device, you can set it up to require a password for every purchase:

  • Open “Settings.”
  • Tap your name.
  • Tap “Media & Purchases.”
  • Tap “Password Settings” and choose the settings you want.

How to monitor your kids in-app purchases

You can also use Mydoh to monitor kids’ spending. And if your junior gamer is going haywire on in-app purchases, you can use the app’s “Lock Card” feature to temporarily halt purchases until you can have a conversation. Learn more about Mydoh’s Smart Cash Card capabilities for kids and teens.

A teen boy playing an online game on his PC

5 ways to talk to your kids about in-app purchases

Now that you’ve armed yourself with tech protections against in-app purchases, it’s also important to arm your kids with the information they need to start making wise decisions about technology and money. Here are some tips to get the conversation started:

1. Talk about the difference between wants and needs

As much as your kids swear up and down that they “neeeeeeeeeeeeeeed that booster pack,” in-app purchases are a want, not a need. Knowing how to teach your kids the difference between want versus a need is an excellent way to set them up for success as they pave the way to making purchases independently. 

2. Set spending limits in advance

Talk to your kids about how easy it is to rack up in-app charges, and figure out the amount that you’re both comfortable spending each week or month. What percentage of your kid’s allowance should go to in-app spending? If they want to spend more, can they? Do they have to do extra chores or tasks to earn that money? These are great examples of conversation-starters around spending. 

3. Let kids learn from their mistakes

If unexpected in-app charges have dinged you, show your kids the bill, explaining how and why it happened, and, if possible, help them figure out a way to help pay for all or part of the charges. In-the-moment money lessons can help them improve moving forward.

Learn more: 10 money mistakes teens make and how to avoid them.

4. Explain that there’s no such thing as “free”

Most applications have a cost, especially in the world of technology, which often runs on a freemium model. That cost might be financial or information about the user, as with social media. Helping your kids to understand how the apps they use operate could set them up for better decision-making. 

5. Talk about the ethics of in-app purchases

What do they think about the model? Do they think it’s fair that some people can afford to pay to “win” the game while others can’t? There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer to questions like these, but they get kids thinking about bigger-picture issues, and that’s always a good thing.

Learn more: 7 Tips for Teaching Your Kids How To Save Money 

Discuss in-app purchases at home with your kids

In-app purchases are a huge driver of our modern-day economy. They’re here to stay—so why not level up by teaching kids how to use them safely and responsibly? Having the appropriate conversations at home with open dialogue and understanding is one way to help set your kids up for financial success as they grow into responsible, money-saving adults. If you’re looking for more tips and advice, read our guide to online gaming for kids and teenagers

Download the Mydoh app to find additional ways to help your help your kids learn, earn, and save

What Parents Need to Know About Facebook

Facebook has been around for many years—over 19 years—and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon. While the platform started off as a “ratings” app for Harvard students, chances are it’s the first social media platform many parents (and their parents) joined.

Today, the multi-billion-dollar company owns other social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Instagram. While Facebook on its own may not be one of the growing popular platforms (compared to Instagram and TikTok), it still holds high value in the digital marketing industry. 

While Facebook might not be seen as “cool” with tweens and teens, the social media platform still reaches 109 million teens. So, if your kid or teen already has a Facebook account, or is asking to create one, here’s everything you need to know about how Facebook operates, the type of content it produces and how to teach your kids the importance of online privacy and safety.

What is Facebook?

Facebook is a popular social networking site amongst almost all age groups. With over 2.74 billions monthly users, it allows users to share pictures, updates about your life, news articles, and play games online with other friends on your list. The platform also has “Messenger,” a private message/direct message platform that can be used to send private messages.

How old do you need to be to have Facebook?

Users must be 13 years or older to create a Facebook account.

How does Facebook work?

Facebook allows you to sign up for free and create a profile based on your information, including your name, date of birth, location, interests, etc. Users can choose what information they want to share and what they would like to keep private. They can then add friends, then share photos, articles, music, videos, news, and thoughts on their profile. Friends can then like, share, and comment on them. 

What type of content is on Facebook?

Digital content is growing, and Facebook is responding by offering different types of content. While it is primarily a social media platform, Facebook has other types of content that contribute to its popularity and relevance. They include: 

  • Newsfeed with Facebook friends: The news feed is a users’ homepage. They can scroll posts shared by their friends, pages they follow, and groups they are part of. The types of content on the news feed can vary from videos to articles, photos, thoughts of their friends, and even sponsored posts. 
  • Messenger: While the platform allows users to share thoughts and posts with all their friends, they also have the option to privately or directly message friends. Just like any other messaging app, Messenger has video calling, voice calling, and endless messaging as long as there’s an internet connection.
  • Messenger Kids: Facebook launched Messenger Kids in December 2017. It’s specifically designed for children aged 12 and under to be a safer alternative to Facebook Messenger. The platform allows kids to message and call for free while parents have control over their contacts list through the parents’ dashboard. It also has a feature that notifies parents if their kids block or report a contact. 
  • Marketplace: This is a digital platform on Facebook for people to buy, sell, and trade items. The seller lists items they want to sell with photographs, pricing, a description, and the quality of the items. Interested buyers can contact the seller via Messenger. 
  • Events, Pages, Groups, Fundraisers: Facebook also has pages that people can like based on their interests. This includes official pages of artists, bands, celebrities, movies, and news channels. In addition, there are pages dedicated to specific interests, such as photography, art, travel, books, and technology. There are also groups that people can join based on their interests. Events can be created and shared on these groups and pages, allowing users to see who is attending, what the agenda of the event is, and other details such as the website, tickets, and contact information. 
  • Facebook Stories: Like Instagram, Facebook has stories that allow people to post images and videos for 24 hours, after which they disappear. The concept initially started with Snapchat, which Instagram picked up on later and adapted for Facebook as well. Since Facebook owns Instagram, the apps are integrated, allowing users to share stories on both platforms at once. 
  • Facebook Dating: The Facebook dating feature is available only on the mobile app. Similar to many other dating apps, Facebook dating allows users to like people they think would interest them from a dating perspective. The feature also allows users to see who their mutual friends are (if any) and have a “secret crush” list that matches them with friends they may have a crush on if it is mutual.

Learn more: The parents’ guide to the metaverse

Is Facebook safe for kids?

As with any online platform, it is important to understand the safety of social media platforms like Facebook. One of the key factors to keep in mind is that Facebook is for users 13 and older. However, it is very easy for someone signing up for the platform to bypass this, as there is no strict verification process. 

One of the key concerns of having younger children on Facebook is the potential of their information falling into the wrong hands. Kids may fall victim to online users sleuthing for personal information or viewing inappropriate content. 

A teen boy using Facebook on his phone

How can I monitor my kids’ activity on Facebook?

With Facebook, there is no way to monitor your children’s content without them sharing their login information with you. If parents want to monitor their kids’ activity, you can create a new Facebook profile with them and work together on building their profile. That way, parents will also have access to their kids’ login details. Explain to your kids that this isn’t so much about not trusting them, but it’s for their online safety. Talking to your kids about the topics of privacy and safety in the online world is important, as it helps them understand where you are coming from. 

Once you and your child have opened their new Facebook account, go into the “Settings and Privacy” section in the drop-down menu in the top right corner of the account. Click on “Privacy” and go through each section with your child:

  • Who can see what you share: There are options to keep all posts visible only to your friends on Facebook. This ensures that the only people who can see your child’s posts are the people they’re actually friends with. 
  • How to keep your account secure: Similarly, there are settings that limit who can view your profile picture, photos, and any personal information such as date of birth, location, and school. 
  • How people find you on Facebook: There is an option where no stranger can message you unless you have mutual friends. This setting is great to help avoid any unknown people messaging your tweens or teens.  
  • Ad preferences on Facebook: The app allows you to choose what type of ads you want to see and don’t want to see. It also has a setting that allows you to choose if they can use your data to customize ads based on what you like. 

Facebook’s effects on the mental health of youth

One of the main concerns of extensive social media usage is its effect on mental health. Adolescents are beginning to socialize with peers and understand who they are as people. They are learning how to make new friends, keep up with the trends, and discover themselves.

Facebook allows them to interact with these friends virtually through chats and calls. And there may be instances where a friend or stranger may say something intentionally or unintentionally to them, hurting their feelings. This could be a comment on physical appearance, a nasty generic comment known as “trolling,” or cyberbullying. 

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place in the digital space. This is done through social media, text messages, online gaming, and more. According to Broadband Search, 60 per cent of teenagers have experienced some sort of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can result in mental health issues, social anxiety, a dip in academic performance, or more aggressive behaviour. 

Another way Facebook might affect your child’s mental health is by comparing themselves to others (also known as FOMO—fear of missing out). Often, people post happy photos on Facebook of events, fun activities, or holidays. Your child may feel like their friends are doing more or having more fun. In these scenarios, talk with your children about the superficial life that is often posted on social media and how it is more important to live in the moment. 

Finally, if your teen or tween follows celebrity and fashion pages on Facebook, it could lead to issues around body image. Have an open dialogue with your kids about body image issues, body positivity, and being comfortable in one’s own skin. Often, images online could be altered or edited, and it is helpful to remind your children of this while ensuring that they don’t partake in it themselves. 

How can I use Facebook with my kids?

While as a parent, you want your kids to be safe on social media platforms, that doesn’t mean you can’t also interact with them. If you also have Facebook, add our tweens or teens to your account. Maybe assure them first that you won’t do anything to embarrass them, like posting their baby pics. Then you can play Facebook games together, share funny memes, and even post family photos—after getting the okay from everyone first. 

Facebook safety tips for parents

Facebook is a safe social media platform, and with the right settings, you can protect your child’s personal information and data. However, because there are no settings to limit or monitor your kids’ activities or what they see, it is possible for them to run into content that is not appropriate. That’s why it’s important for parents to have conversations around safety precautions and privacy concerns, including:

  • Never reveal personal information such as an address, phone number, school, password, or information about their parents or other family members.
  • Only add people you know as friends on Facebook.
  • Think before posting, as there are consequences to posting inappropriate language and pictures on Facebook 
  • If your kids get a request or message from someone they don’t know on Facebook, they should tell you. 
  • Let them know they can talk to you if they ever feel threatened or bullied online.
  • Emphasize that you are always available to talk about anything

Facebook is a platform that has been around for a while. And kids and teens have grown up with social media as part of their lives. As parents, it is normal to be concerned about our kids’ activity and presence on Facebook. However, with the right amount of monitoring and conversations and setting social media boundaries, Facebook can be a good experience.

To learn more about additional platforms and internet safety, check out our guide to social media for kids and teenagers

Help your kids make responsible decisions early on

To help ensure that your kids use social media responsibly, parents can begin to introduce smart decision-making early on in their lives. Involve tweens and teens taking on daily chores at home. Parents can also introduce them to smart money management by downloading apps like Mydoh as part of having an ongoing conversation with them about the digital world. 

Download Mydoh to learn more about how you can use the app and Smart Cash Card as a way to help your kids learn, earn, and save while making smart decisions. 

What Parents Need to Know About Instagram

Do you have kids and teens whose mantra seems to be, “If it isn’t on Instagram, did it really happen?” Instagram is a photo-sharing app that also allows users to chat, share videos, and follow other users. The app’s features promote creativity and can be a venue for self-expression. With over one billion users, it continues to grow in popularity. While it started as purely a photo-sharing app, it’s shifted to become an “entertainment” app. This change came about with the growing popularity of TikTok

Technically users of Instagram need to be a minimum of 13-years-old. However, your tween may already use the app. Here’s what parents need to know about how Instagram works, safety concerns, and how you can monitor their activity on Instagram.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a social media platform that allows users to share photos, videos, and snippets of their lives. Its popularity grew over the years because of the ability to “instantly” share a photograph after capturing it. Instagram is owned by Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and is a visual-based platform. The app is popular among Millennials and Gen Z, as there are many popular brands, celebrities, and influencers on the app. Teens and tweens are also using the tool to keep in touch with friends by chatting through messenger and sharing snippets of their life. 

Read more about popular social media platforms teens are using.

How does Instagram work?

Instagram works on a follower-based concept. To get started, your child would need to download the app and sign up for an account—which is free. Once signed up, they can create an Instagram profile, then they can follow other Instagram users based on their likes or interests, or if you know them. To make an Instagram post, your child can select a photo or video on their smartphone’s camera. Photos can be manipulated before posting by cropping the image, changing the brightness and selecting a filter to apply to the photo. Like Twitter, Instagram generates a feed of content on your kids’ homepage. Tweens and teens can then see, like, and comment on the content in their feed.

What type of content is on Instagram?

Instagram is primarily a photo and video sharing app, but it also has a direct message feature where users can write messages or post images privately. Here are some main types of content on Instagram:

Instagram Photo Grid

Aesthetics is a big part of Instagram. The photo grid is essentially the main profile of any user. It contains photos and videos that followers can access, as well as the user’s profile at the top. A profile includes a photo image, their name, a short bio, and the option to add contact information. 

Stories

This is a concept that is similar to Snapchat, where a user can share a photo or video for 24 hours. Instagram also allows users to post their stories under “Highlights” on their profile, making them available for as long as they don’t delete them. 

IGTV

Instagram also allows users to share short videos on their profiles. IGTV (Instagram TV) is a feature where Instagram users can upload videos that are longer than a minute. This is usually intended for music videos, educational content, or short films.  

Reels

Given how popular TikTok has become, Instagram created its own version called “reels.” Reels is a feature where users can create fun multi-clip videos, then layer on audio and visual effects. Users can share reels with their followers. But like TikTok, if your kids’ account is public, these reels can appear on the explore page for other people to view, whether or not they follow you. The content on reels is usually videos, such as helpful tips, dancing, pranks, art processes, trends, or education. 

What’s Instagram’s age limit?

According to the terms and services of Instagram, a user needs to be 13 or older to sign up for the app. However, there’s no way of verifying a user’s age, so it’s easy for kids under 13 to sign up for an account.

Is Instagram safe for kids?

With the growing use of social media, it’s understandable that parents may worry if Instagram is safe for their kids to use. While the app is no more or less safe than other social media apps teens are on, kids can be exposed to follows and comments by people they don’t know, in addition to mature or inappropriate content. 

Instagram effects on the mental health of youth

Social media activates our brain’s reward centre and releases a hit of dopamine, and has been linked to anxiety and depression. Tweens and teens who are just starting to use social media should know the potential downside. 

In particular, Instagram may present a slice of life where everything looks perfect. As it’s an image-based app, it’s easy for anyone to focus on how things look and on receiving external validation through likes and comments. 

Teenagers are in their phase of life where they are making friends, getting to know themselves, and to a certain extent, trying to be “cool.” This leads them to compare themselves often with their friends and celebrities online. The way some people portray their lives on social media is not the reality and some kids don’t understand this. That’s why it’s important to have discussions with them about the reality of life versus what they see online. 

Some teenagers may also be subjected to cyberbullying through comments on their posts or direct messages. It’s important to talk to your kids about the risk of cyberbullying. Finally, a social media platform like Instagram could also have a negative impact on your teen’s body image and self-esteem. Have conversations with your kids around body positivity, body image, self-love, and self-care. Read articles, watch documentaries, and follow body-positive influencers on Instagram to encourage conversations around this topic. 

Learn more about the pros and cons of social media apps for kids.

How can parents monitor Instagram?

Given that kids can connect with anyone else on the app and may be subject to things like cyberbullying or adult content, it’s important parents know how they can monitor their kids’ activity on Instagram and help keep them safe. 

1. Follow your child’s Instagram account 

Explain to your kids you’ll follow their account on Instagram to monitor their activity and online safety. You can also use this opportunity to connect with your kids on a social level. Following your tween or teen also means you can see who else is following them. If you see a suspicious person, ask your kids if they know that person and how. Get more details and make sure it is a safe friendship. 

2. Check their privacy settings

Instagram gives users the option of having a private or public profile. A public account means anyone can follow your tween or teen on Instagram, whether they know the person or not. For privacy and online safety, it’s best your child keeps their profiles private. With a private account, users must confirm or delete the request before the other user has access to your account.  

3. Share content with close friends 

Kids can also create a “Close Friends” list where stories are shared only with their friends on that list. It’s easy for tweens and teens to update the list and remove people if they need to. 

4. Have an open discussion with them 

Be open about your concerns with your kids. Explain they aren’t in trouble or spying on them but that you want to help make sure they’re safe when engaging with others online. Let your tweens and teens know they can talk to you about anything and shouldn’t hold back on any concerns they may have. 

A teen girl using Instagram on her phone

What if my kid wants to become an Instagram influencer?

An influencer on Instagram is a person who can impact how their followers make decisions. Usually, influencers have many followers and come to people’s attention through a viral video, because they’re an actor, dancer, musician, or because of the content they share—such as make-up tutorials or fashion tips. 

If your tween or teen says they want to become an Instagram influencer, don’t automatically shut down the idea. While it may not sound feasible to you, as a parent, you may want to help them understand what goes into being an influencer. For example, explain that what your kid sees and what goes on behind the scenes is completely different. There is a lot of work that goes behind the “enjoyment” they see, such as securing brand deals, creating content, editing videos, and getting approval. There is also the issue of dealing with negative comments an influencer can face from followers.  

There are also positive aspects of striving to become an influencer that your teen can learn from. Aspects such as digital marketing, video editing, photography, and keeping up-to-date with news or trends. As an influencer, they could even have a positive impact on others (some influencers, such as teen climate activist Autumn Peltier, are advocating for a more equitable society). Discuss both the positive and negative aspects, so your kids can make a more informed decision. 

How can I use Instagram with my kids?

There is a fine line between friending your kids on social media and embarrassing them. Most tweens and teens are concerned about the latter. You could follow your kids on social media and like all their posts, but check with your kids first before leaving a comment. The other way to have a good relationship with your kids on social media is by following similar entertainment pages where you can share funny memes with each other, exchange funny videos, and maybe even a few inspirational quotes. Be a friend online, but remember to have any serious conversations about social media in person. 

How do you make a teenager safe on Instagram?

There are some features on Instagram that are designed to make the app a safer space for tweens and teens. To begin with, make sure your kid’s profile is private. This ensures that no stranger is able to see their photos or stories. The second feature that can help make the app more safe is disabling comments on posts. This removes any space for negative comments and cyberbullying. In addition to this feature, there is a feature under “Privacy” called “Hidden Words.” This feature allows you to hide comments that may be offensive, as well as hide message requests from strangers. 

There is also a section called “Manage custom word list” that allows you to add specific words that will automatically be hidden if used on your kid’s profile. Finally, explain to your kids that anyone can report inappropriate content they see on Instagram, including posts, comments, DMs, Stories, IGTV and Reels. Put their mind at ease and let tweens and teens know that reporting is totally anonymous. 

Learn more: What kids and teens need to know about online privacy.

Use Mydoh to help your kids make smart decisions online 

While parents should consider setting boundaries around social media use, there are also some advantages to Instagram. If you follow your kids’ accounts and engage with them, you might see friendships bloom online, your child learns from influencers who want to make a difference, and your child expresses their creativity through the visual content they share. 

In order to ensure that your kids are using Instagram responsibly, you can begin to introduce smart decision-making early on in their lives. This can be done by involving them in small chores at home, exposing them to money management by downloading apps like Mydoh and having open conversations with them about the digital world. 

Download the app to learn more about how you can use Mydoh as a way to help your kids learn, earn, and save