When my youngest daughter reached 12 she asked for a Facebook profile. She pleaded with me stating that all her friends were using it, and she felt the odd one out. I refused! Do you think I was too hard and should have allowed her to have an account?
Facebook stipulates that users must be at least 13 years old before they can create an account. Creating an account with false information (including age) is a violation of those T&Cs. During research I have found that :
- Twitter doesn't ask an age.
- The minimum age for Instagram and Pinterest is 13
- The minimum age for LinkedIn is 14
- The minimum age for WhatsApp is 16
- The minimum age for YouTube is 18
Wouldn't it be easier if the permitted ages on social media were all the same?
Almost 16 now, my daughter uses many of the social media platforms available, I watch her on those platforms and advise where I feel it applicable. I still worry about what she might see. As if to prove the point one particular day, I was shocked and worried about the images creeping into my newsfeed. I un-liked the people who were sharing them, regardless of who they were, and I posted this on my profile.
"I don't share, like or comment on images of animal/human cruelty or graphic images depicting acts of terror or violence. Not because I don't care. It's because I do. Because if I liked, shared or commented on such awful sickening images, it would show up in my 'friends' news feed, which includes the 13+ age group!! I would rather not be the one to subject them to those images. Even I don't want to see these images!"
Now when I see something I dislike, I use the drop down option to say " don't want to see this" And Facebook is starting to learn what I like and is starting to show me more of it.
The benefits of using social media
Like us adults, kids can enjoy the benefits of connecting with family and friends on social media, especially with those who live a distance away. Social media can also allow children to talk about the interests they have and to be able to join groups and pages around those interests. Using the platforms available gives them the ability to learn how to have good on-line skills, which is useful as they become adults in the workplace (If they are monitored and given guidance that is).
But there are more disadvantages.
Shady characters can gain access to personal information or the popular 'check-ins' (they could be lurking, disguised as someone the same age). The content can indeed be cute & adorable, but some content can be more of a mature nature and inappropriate. Even some of the social media's own adverts can be a risqué I have found! Bullying on-line is an issue we should watch closely for too. Even with this scary list pushed to one side, there's the fact that social media can be a distraction and a waste of time!
7 tips to keep your child safer when using social media
If you have a child (over 13) just starting to use social media here are some tips to help
- Teach them to say NO! They do not have to connect with every request
- Use the comprehensive privacy settings available to protect them
- Remind them that anything put on-line is permanent
- Use Filtering software available to monitor your children
- Advise them to avoid questionnaires, give-aways and contests
- Remind them not to add anything they wouldn't say or show to Gran!
- Be a good example yourself!
So, are you FOR or AGAINST? Do you have any further comments? Do you have other suggestions of ways that we can help keep our children safe on-line? Please add them using the comment box below...