What is Pinterest and is it appropriate for my child?
Here are 5 FACTS every parent needs to know about Pinterest:
#1 Virtual Pinboard
Pinterest calls themselves a “visual discovery engine”. Whether you are looking for party ideas, recipes, home improvement, craft ideas, or travel destinations, Pinterest can provide you an endless scroll of inspiration.
You can find these ideas and inspiration in the form of Pins on the website and app. People create, find, and save images/links from around the web and “Pin” them to Pinterest. Clicking through a Pin will bring you to the website where you can learn how to make it or where to buy it. As you scroll through Pins you can save pins to a “Board”. You can have a multitude of Boards, named and arranged as you like. Board sections can also be created within a board in order to better organize ideas. Group boards help multiple users collaborate ideas together and private boards ensure no one else sees your pins (if, for example, you are planning a surprise).
You can comment on Pins in order to share feedback. Comments can be up to 500 characters long.
If you see a Pin you know a friend would love you can also share that Pin via the messaging portion of Pinterest. This same messaging feature allows for traditional messaging as well – not just sharing Pins.
Pinterest, like many social media platforms, allows you to Follow others on Pinterest. Likewise, you can create your own following. Your home feed of inspiration will be curated to reflect those whom you follow. If you follow cat lovers, you’ll see endless kitty-cat inspiration. You can follow all of someone’s boards or only certain ones. Most recently, Pinterest gave the ability to “Tune your home feed”. This feature shows which themes/topics the algorithm is using to generate content. You can modify this by checking/un-checking which themes are used.
Your Pinterest profile is publicly viewable and (according to Pinterest) is a “reflection of who you are”. Anyone can see your saved pins, boards, and who you follow. Only private boards are hidden from the public profile.
#2 Business Marketing Tool
Pinterest reported at the end of 2019 there were 322 million active Pinterest users worldwide. Considering also that 71% of all users are female, it makes sense that it has become a hub of brands promotion through engaging imagery.
Pinterest is fully on board with catering to companies and brands as this drives their own revenue. They offer free analytical tools to help businesses see what is and is not working with their Pins. New features allows for users to shop directly for products from Pins, Boards, Search, and Style Guides. Companies can also promote pins as Ads. While you cannot turn off ads completely you can hide or block the advertiser’s Pinterest profile.
#3 Personal Brand
According to Wikipedia, personal branding is: the practice of marketing people and their careers as brands. It is an ongoing process of developing and maintaining a reputation and impression of an individual, group, or organization.
Although early Pinterest etiquette discouraged self-promotion, the culture of personal branding has now found a solid home within Pinterest. By connecting with other social sites like YouTube, Etsy, and Instagram, your shared personal content can easily establish your “brand.”
One thing is for sure: self-promotion can be exhausting. Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, when asked in an interview, discouraged the trend of “personal branding” saying: “Crest has a brand. Perrier has a brand. People are not that simple. When we are packaged, we’re ineffective and inauthentic.” Definitely a thought worth acknowledging.
#4 Addictive? Dangerous?
According to 2019 Statista results, Pinterest has the second highest average time per session (5.06 minutes), second only to TikTok (at 10.85 minutes). Rival counterpart Instagram average session time is only 2.95 minutes. While these numbers do not definitively identify Pinterest’s addictive nature, several other features point to this strong potential:
- Design: beautifully curated pictures where comments are minimized and stacked – just enough to pique interest and keep you scrolling
- Scrolling: those who love inspiration but are tired of traditional sharing on social media can find refuge in scrolling Pinterest for ideas rather than stalking.
- Followers: quantified measure of worthiness tends to fuel a desire for more.
Considering the app and website are globally free to use, you must consider it’s potential for dangerous content. Some users nefariously post inappropriate content under appropriate boards. Aiming to catch the viewer off guard (looking for balloon arrangements for a party you find a pin of a “cam girl” holding a balloon, offering her services) these users often squeak by undetected by Pinterest.
Furthermore, since Pinterest is all about sharing ideas, bad ideas can easily find their way into young hands. Whether it be searches for pornographic content, anorexia, or self-harm or recommended categories such as pranks, memes, anime, creepypasta, furry art, and manga, motivated teens can find their way into inappropriate content easily.
Essentially, there is no good way to control what your child sees. With that said, Pinterest has made significant efforts to rid the platform of this content (and content that promotes political agendas). A search for self-harm, for example, now comes up with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
#5 Parental Controls & Ratings
App Store: 12+
Google Play: T (Teen)
Brave Parenting: High School
Pinterest gained a reputation of the “safest social media” platforms in its earlier years. As it has grown, however, a dark side has certainly emerged. It’s important to discuss the potentially dangerous aspects with your teens before allowing the app on their phone. This includes the ability to message, friend, and follow others.
Pinterest can be an effective tool for kids -finding ideas on hair braiding, artwork, DIY or Lego creations. The key is finding your inspiration and putting it to action in real life. It’s all to easy to get lost in scrolling a never-ending feed. We recommend utilizing the Pinterest website on co-viewed devices (such as the home computer) alongside your children during the late elementary and middle school years. In this way, you can guide them through its use and warn them on any potential concerning content.
Furthermore, once your child has their own Pinterest account we recommend following them. This will allow you to see what they are pinning at least in case there are any disturbing trends. You should also help set up their account so you can limit notifications and ensure privacy settings.