Is setting up a social media account right for my young dancer?
Technology and digital interaction are integral parts of the younger generations’ daily lives, especially young dancers who use online platforms to watch dance and teach themselves, as well as promote themselves. Back in the day, to promote themselves or get booked for jobs, dancers had to create time consuming showreels and CVs and seek out castings and auditions through word of mouth or printed resources. Talent scouts were about of course, but their jobs were not made easy in those days. Now they can scout via social media for talent – it’s right in front of their faces and your social media platforms act like one big showreel and CV!
It’s therefore important this generation of aspiring young dancers begin to grow their social media platforms to build their network and gain exposure. At Elevate Arts we encourage parents to set up an Instagram (at the very least) for their children for these reasons.
Social media can be tricky though, we get that. Parents do not always understand it and often shy away for the wrong reasons, or go in the opposite direction and create loads of accounts for their children to self-manage without realising the dangers their children could potentially face.
So whether your child already has social media accounts, you are thinking of setting one up, or you are worried about setting one up, have a read below.
Should I manage my child’s social media or let them have control over it?
Legally your child should only have their own Instagram account if they are 13 or older (other platforms may have different age restrictions) This is for a range of reasons including safeguarding. If your child is under 13 it is important only you post to their account and you strictly monitor comments, messages and followers. We suggest you do not let your child browse through social media without you being present and add on their profile that their account is managed by parents. The age restriction is there for a reason!
If your child is 13 or older, they can legally have their own account, however not all young people mentally mature at the same rate so we recommend using your discretion to decide if your child is actually ready to have control of their account when they are 13 or not. If your child struggles to deal with negative comments or jealousy, social media accounts might not be right for them at this time, even if they are legally allowed to have them. It is the nature of social media to have others comment positively and negatively on posts, your child WILL see these and so needs to be prepared and have mechanisms in place to deal with the negative comments and also be able to process the positive comments in a mature way and remain humble. If your child manages their own account, as a parent it is still your responsibility to safeguard your child and still keep tabs on their activity to ensure they are using it in a safe manner. This also goes for how they interact with others over social media.
Public or private?
Some dance competitions or agencies will insist your child’s profile is made public. Again, there is no harm in this if it is monitored correctly by parents. A public profile also makes it easier to network and for Elevate Arts to tag you in posts too! It is a good idea for children to have a separate dance account and personal account so they can keep their personal account private.
When and what to post?
For dance accounts we recommend posting regularly. This can be anything from 3 posts a day to 3 posts a week, however if just starting out you might want to stick with 1 post a week to avoid overwhelm! Your posts should include a variety of content (grid and stories) including:
- Dance videos (freestyles, routines, Tik Toks, behind the scenes of dance, class footage, practice videos, bloopers, etc)
- Photos (headshots, full length shots, photos of you doing dance related things)
- Videos and photos of anything else you do to compliment your dancing. Maybe you keep fit, go to watch performances, teach a younger sibling, just got a cool new outfit, make an amazing fruit salad, want to share your inspirations, etc.
Things to think about before posting
Whether you run your child’s social media accounts or they do, it is important to think about how their account is used. This includes posts uploaded on their account, stories, comments under other people’s posts and direct messages. Yes, things can be deleted, but in this day and age of screenshots and clouds, nothing is ever really “deleted.” Before you post, ask yourself the following:
- Will I / my child regret this post, comment or message in future when they are older?
- If YES do not post!
- Would I / my child be comfortable if another adult saw my child dressed or dancing in this way? (As much as children should be free to wear and move how they want, the fact is there are some adults whose minds work in strange ways and we have no control over that)
- If NO do not post!
Interactions with others on social media
Having a social media account can of course open children and young people to cyber bullying and grooming. It is important to therefore monitor your child’s account regularly.
If your child does manage their own account, please make them aware that no adult should be messaging them privately. Anything that needs to be said by an adult to a child should be done publicly on their posts. If an adult does message your child for whatever reason, they need to let you (parents) or Elevate Arts know and not respond at all to the message. Equally no child should be messaging an adult.
Interact with others by all means through comments and likes (that is what social media is about!) but be mindful of what you type. You are effectively building a brand (you/your child are your brand!) so you want to grow a personality that is positive and supportive towards others.
If your child follows adult dancers, please make sure it is the adult’s dance account not their private account, and there is no explicit content. No adult should be accepting personal requests from a student through their private account until the student has reached the age of 25 (legal age requirement)
What to do if I feel something isn’t quite right
If you do feel uncomfortable about anyone or anything on your child’s social media, go with your gut instinct and remove/block them and/or their comments. It is always best to be safe than sorry.
If you are worried about grooming, do not name names on social media as this could jeopardise any case should one be made against the perpetrator, instead make a report to the police or NSPCC.
There is no need to be afraid of social media, just be educated and mindful of how you/your child use it and have this conversation with your child. If you do have a social media account, be sure to follow us @elevateartsuk and we will follow back!