Social media is a great tool for keeping in contact with friends and family across the globe. However, social media also can be dangerous, especially for children.

Social media usage at an early age has been linked to declining mental health. The American Psychological Association issued a health advisory for social media usage in adolescence and Florida’s government banned children under 14 from having social media without parental permission. In this age of technology, it’s hard to keep children away from social applications. However, before making the decision to allow your child on social media, it is essential to give thought to whether their child is ready.

“Many studies have indicated that a young person’s brain does not fully develop until the age of 25,” said Deidra Sorrell, a certified school psychologist. “Children can seem mature, but research also supports that the ages of 11 and 14 can be peak years for bullying.”

According to Sorrell, most children aren’t ready for social media during these young, transformative years. With suicidal thoughts more prominent, children are vulnerable to bullying and predators. Sorrel recommends introducing social media to children in eighth grade, around the ages 13 and 14.

“If the child understands the risks and benefits of social media, [and] understands the rules and is willing to comply, they are possibly ready for social media,” she said.

At that early age, Sorrell recommends parents set five specific rules surrounding social media usage.

Set Time Limits

Consider creating boundaries for social media, like locking the application at a certain time. Create phone-free times throughout the day to spend more time together. Sorrell suggests times, like eating dinner together or going on walks. This helps prevent addiction and exposure to harmful content. It also allows them to recognize life outside of social media.

Monitor Your Children’s Pages

Keep a close eye on their social media pages and find out how they are using their profiles. Be mindful of the things that they are watching and the people that they are connecting with on the applications. Talk to them about their digital footprint, as well as the dangers and legal consequences of putting inappropriate images online.

Add Them As Friends

Sorrell suggests parents add their children as friends on social media. Signing up for notifications and updates are good ways to monitor activity on the apps.

Keep Communication Open

You want your child to be comfortable enough to go to you when they see something out of the ordinary online. “Keep the lines of communication open, so that the child can ask questions if something strange happens on social media or alert the parent if there are any bullying or predatory messages,” Sorrell recommends.

Teach and Model Self-Esteem

Children can become depressed after using social media. It is easy to compare themselves to the lives and looks of others.

“Constant comparisons to other people’s lives can contribute to low self-esteem and depression,” Sorrell told 21Ninety.

She recommends parents to teach kids the value of their character and being thankful for all the thing they have.