Social Media

How Dwyane Wade Shields His Daughter’s Social Media From "Negativity And Ugliness"

Zaya might have a public Instagram account, but that doesn’t mean just anyone can interact with her posts.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: (L-R) Zaya Wade, Kaavia James Union Wade, Gabrielle Union, and D...
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

When it comes to parenting, ex-basketball star Dwyane Wade pretty famously takes his role as a dad seriously. Wade recently spoke about how he navigates social media with his older kids and why he’s specific about protecting his daughter, Zaya, when it comes to her digital life, in an interview with sports journalist Jemele Hill on her podcast Jemele Hill is Unbothered.

The two specifically addressed how Wade, and his wife, Gabrielle Union, protect Zaya from harmful comments on social media after getting a taste of how toxic the social media lanscape can be with Wade’s older child, Zaire, who is a professional basketball player in the NBA G League.

“We experienced [the toxicity of social media] a few years earlier with Zaire,” Wade said. “We put him on social media…seeing the ugliness and negativity that my son dealt with just because he’s my son and he played basketball,” he knew that wasn’t what he would do for Zaya when she was old enough.

So one step that Wade took to make sure his daughter could be on social media was limiting who can comment on her Instagram posts. Zaya, like Zaire, is a public figure — even if she is only a teenager — with 600,000 followers. And as a young transgender teenager, too, there could be a lot of hatred, negativity, and nastiness lobbed her way.

“Zaire’s conversation was about sports. Zaya’s is about what a lot of people don’t even understand and get. And so we sat down with Zaya about being on social media. Her, my wife and I, we just talked about, we just want to make sure if she’s going to be on social media, if she’s going to show people some of her life, it’s going to be the people that she wants, that’s in her circle,” Wade told TODAY a few weeks ago about the same subject.

So while Zaya is posting freely on Instagram, only a select few can actually comment on her posts.

“We actually never turned them on,” Wade explained after Hill asked about comments being limited on his daughter’s Instagram profile.

“When we got around to Zaya, there was no way that we could allow that to happen for her,” he explained. “We wanted the people that’s in her inner circle, in her life, the ones that really root for her and celebrate her…we wanted them to be the ones that are exposed to her life and the moments that she decides to share.”

When comments are limited on Instagram, that means that only a select people can comment on Instagram posts, usually people who the poster actually already follows.

“... We left the hate out of it. There’s enough of that in the world. She gets enough of it. We didn’t want it to be on her comments so she can read it... It’s very important for us as parents to protect the health of our kids, both physically and mentally, so we wanted to do that,” Wade told TODAY, as well.

Allowing teenagers to take the plunge of logging on to social media, whether it be in the large scale or small scale, can be intimidating because social media can be a ruthless place for kids. Parents know how much negativity is out there.

Parents who are about to make the step on to the digital plane should have many conversations about digital safety with their children. Safety tips should include conversations about what is and isn’t appropriate to share on social media, setting parental controls, going online together, and deciding on rules and consequences for misbehavior online.

To read more about how to keep your kids safe on the Internet, check out Fatherly’s Parent's Guide To Internet Safety. To listen to the full interview with Wade on Jemele Hill is Unbothered, click here.