At first glance, Pinterest appears to be one of the safest social media sites. There's little direct communication between participants, so your child is unlikely to connect with predators. 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.
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.
Limit Pinterest Time
You may find that limiting your child to browsing Pinterest on a browser helps you keep a more effective eye on what they're doing than allowing them to browse straight from their phone. Consider limiting the amount of time spent on Pinterest just like you would any other social media site. Many parents feel that Pinterest is essentially harmless, and it may be for most children. Others may struggle with the ready availability of pornographic images or inappropriate content. Limiting time on the site can also help limit their exposure to that content.
Adjust Parental Controls in Your Browser
Talk to Your Child
Any time you discover that your child is accessing inappropriate content, it's important to have a conversation about it. Some content is accessed simply because of a child's natural curiosity. Other content may be accessed because your child fell down a metaphorical “rabbit hole” while browsing and ended up in a place they didn't intend to go. No matter how your child accessed that content, however, it's important to talk about it. Share your views, including why you would rather they avoid that type of content. An open dialogue
makes it easier for your child to tell you what they've seen — and it increases the odds that they'll turn to you — instead of to the internet — to learn more.
Pinterest is a great place for your child to browse hairstyles, outfit ideas, workout plans, and more. With proper parental monitoring, it can be an excellent tool for your child — and these steps can help keep your child safe.