At What Age Should Children Start Using Social Media?
We’re living in the midst of the digital era. Today, one of the most frequently asked questions among parents is when their children can start using social media.
For newer generations, technology is already part of the way they relate to and interpret the world around them. But as parents, we need to know how to balance our teenage children’s safety and privacy on the internet.
Preteens on social media: A dangerous reality
Social media impacts the way teenagers speak and interact with one another. In this sense, parents and educators often express concern about the participation of preteens in these online networks.
In many parts of the world, almost 12% of children between 9 and 10 years of age are already present on social media. The number increases to 45% when it comes to preteens between the ages of 11 and 12.
While social media networks are useful, they also pose a number of risks, especially for children and adolescents. These dangers range from fairly simple to extremely serious.
On the one hand, parents may want to keep social media from becoming something that distracts their children from studies and chores. On the other hand, parents need to know how to quickly identify cyberbullying and cyberstalking.
Before allowing your children to create profiles on social media platforms, it’s important to ask yourself if it’s really the right time. Furthermore, it’s important to maintain a sincere and positive relationship with your children. That way, they’ll have the space to express their feelings and let you know when something is wrong.
What does the law say about social media?
Currently, there is no law in place that establishes an age when children can legally begin to use social media. However, the terms and conditions of most networks set a minimum registration age at 13.
The reason behind this requirement is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This law prohibits collecting personal data of children under 13 without the consent of their parents or guardians.
Obeying the law requires the commitment of parents
In the midst of this digital area, youth have an easy time finding tools online that allow them to falsify documentation. Basic skills in photo editing programs give them the ability to alter their birth dates and even ID pictures. In fact, to create accounts on most social media platforms, they only need to lie.
Therefore, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act isn’t enough to guarantee that children will wait to use social media. That’s why the education parents give each of their children is so important. What’s more, parents need to be sure to maintain open communication within their families.
Social media networks need to adopt more rigorous measures when it comes to teens and preteens using their platforms. However, families and schools continue to be the greatest factor when it comes to educating children and youth regarding the dangers.
Security tips for parents
Sooner or later, the time to allow your children to have online social media profiles will come. And when it does, you’ll require the necessary awareness to guide them on how to protect their safety and wellbeing in the virtual world. In order to help you, here are some key tips for caring for your children on social media:
- Make your children aware of the risks. Even the most intelligent and perceptive teens lack the life experience needed to quickly identify the risks involved in each situation.
- Talk to them about not offering up personal data and about being careful about talking to strangers. Children and teenagers discover the internet to be the ideal place to express themselves freely and exercise their creativity. But it’s important for them to understand the dangers of revealing certain information online.
- Establish a bond of trust with your children so that they feel safe and comfortable telling you about anything that may be going on. This is essential in detecting and combating cyberbullying and cyberstalking and their devastating effects on the mental and physical health of our children.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- del Barrio Fernández, Ángela; Ruiz Fernández, Isabel. 2014. Los adolescentes y el peligro de las redes sociales. http://www.redalyc.org/pdf/3498/349851785056.pdf
- Guía Antares, 2015. El peligro de las redes sociales. http://cpal.edu.pe/uploads/recursos/publicaciones/el-peligro-de-las-redes-sociales-en-ninos-y-adolescentes.pdf
- Nazaret Heredia, Erika García, 2017. Universidad de Granada, España. http://revistas.udc.es/index.php/reipe/article/viewFile/2120/pdf