Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's education and lifestyle reporter.

Mum urges parents to be vigilant on allowing their children to use social media

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Kylie Farrington allowed her daughter Nataliah Kingi to set up her own Facebook page when she was 11 but has strict guidelines about how she uses it. Photo/Stephen Parker
Kylie Farrington allowed her daughter Nataliah Kingi to set up her own Facebook page when she was 11 but has strict guidelines about how she uses it. Photo/Stephen Parker

For Rotorua mum Kylie Farrington, setting up a Facebook account for her 12-year-old daughter was a decision she didn't take lightly.

Ms Farrington set up the account when her daughter Nataliah Kingi was 11 so she could easily communicate with other children in her three netball teams and touch team.

Fears for underage kids on social media

Nataliah's account is carefully monitored with strict guidelines around who can see her profile and what pages she can follow.

Ms Farrington said her decision to let Nataliah use Facebook came down to her being open and honest.

"At the end of the day technology is everywhere and I was extremely proud she came to me and asked if she could set one up, rather than go behind my back as I think a lot of children do."

Ms Farrington said a lot of her daughter's classmates were already on social media at the time.

"At first I set up the account for myself and gave her access until she was able to prove to me she was responsible enough to use it herself.

"I still monitor it and get all the notifications to my own phone but I don't read all her messages anymore as I trust she will come to me if there are any problems."

She said the one thing she had not loosened the reins on was friend requests.

"I am very strict about which friend requests she can accept. I check out every person's page who requests to be her friend and any sign of anything inappropriate, the request is deleted. I only allow her to accept requests from friends at school and close relatives."

Ms Farrington said it had not been all smooth sailing with Nataliah being subjected to nasty comments from her peers.

"There was one incident where a boy told her over Facebook to go hang herself. I approached her school and left it in their hands as those kinds of comments usually have a lot more behind them.

"I teach my daughter to not take the comments personally and tell me if she does get them.

"I think often the cyberbullying comes from the children whose social media use is not monitored by their parents so if more parents were vigilant we would see less online abuse."

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