At first glance, Pinterest appears to be one of the safest social media sites. Its main purpose is for people to find and save ideas for anything from DIY projects to recipes to design. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that Pinterest is entirely safe. There are several things parents need to keep in mind as they allow their children to browse Pinterest, notably including:
- Mature content, including pornographic content, that hasn’t yet been blocked by Pinterest
- Content that glorifies eating disorders or self-harm
- Links that lead away from Pinterest to other sites that could potentially be dangerous
- A lack of privacy on Pinterest (most people use their real name to sign up)
- Pinterest has secret boards that are visible only to your child and whoever they choose to invite
- You can hide your child’s account from search engines and disable cookie-based personalization
- Your child has the ability to block other Pinterest users if they encounter harassment or bullying
It’s also important to keep in mind that your child may not be in control of what images they see when they’re browsing. Content pinned by the individuals they follow (who your child may never have met) or content that appears after a seemingly innocent search can be surprisingly detrimental. Pinterest’s terms of service state that children must be at least 13 to use their product, but some parents may choose to allow their child to use it earlier.
Pinterest also has a direct messaging feature that predators or bullies could potentially use to send inappropriate messages to child users, so be sure to remind your kid not to give out any personal information on the platform, and to let you know if anyone is making them uncomfortable.
How do you keep your child safe while they’re browsing Pinterest? There are several steps that can help keep your child safer.
Follow Your Child
Do you follow your child on Pinterest? While this may not mean that you see everything they look at, it will show you what they’re pinning — and make it easy for you to check out their boards. Following your child may help you note any disturbing trends in your child’s Pinterest behavior before they become a more serious problem. Knowing that you’re following them may also help prevent your child from looking up and pinning content that could be detrimental to their mental health.
Keep in mind that others can follow your child, too. Avoid linking your child’s Pinterest account to their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts to help prevent strangers from learning more about them.