Whether you love it or hate it, social media and online communications play a part in our everyday lives – work, rest or play. The same can also be said for our children – choosing to talk to their peers using electronic means such as SnapChat, FB Messenger and Instagram. But did you know that there are minimum age limits for the various social media platforms – just like smoking, drinking, voting and many other aspects of life we encounter as we go from childhood into adulthood.
A recent survey for CBBC, of 1,200 people aged between 10 and 18, found that 96 per cent were signed up to social media networks. And it found that 78 per cent of those 1,200 people interviewed aged under 13 had joined at least one social network despite not being old enough
So, what are the age limits?
- Facebook – 13 years old: “Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13”
- Instagram – 13 years old
- Twitter – 13 years old
- SnapChat – 13 years old
- WhatsApp – 16 years old
- LinkedIn – 16 years old
- You Tube – 18 years old – but it will also allow a 13-year-old to sign up with their parent’s permission.
The NSPCC said that some sites can be a “dangerous place for younger children, potentially exposing them to bullying, inappropriate content or grooming”. The charity found that 1,380 children – out of nearly 1,700 it surveyed – thought social media sites needed to do more to protect them and they reported seeing pornography, self-harm, bullying and hatred.
Quick Tips For Parents:-
- Educate yourself about the various social media platforms (and remember – the Daily Mail is NOT the gospel!!)
- Be open with your kids about social media and talk to them about the potential dangers of grooming, bullying and over-sharing. It’s a very fine line between friendly “bants” and cyberbullying.
- Persuade your kids to accept you as a Friend/Follower. Promise you won’t hound them – but keep a respectful, watchful eye from a distance.
- Check their Privacy Settings. Many of the social sites default to “the world and his wife” – change the settings so that only Friends/Connections can see the content your children are posting. Food for thought: A Profile set to Public, a simple selfie, and Location set to On means that anyone anywhere can locate your child.
- Make sure you have access to their accounts/account passwords so that in the event of anything untoward occurring, you’ll be able to access their account and intervene if necessary.
- Establish guidelines: how much time are your children spending on social media? Do they have access to mobile phones/tablets after they’ve gone to bed at night? Look out for signs such as tiredness and decreasing grades at school as these could be signs that your child isn’t sleeping at night.
Used in a positive light, social media:
- Helps children connect with extended family and friends.
- Helps develop better perspectives on various issues.
- Helps learn new things, exchange ideas and hone their networking skills.
- It helps provide an effective platform for enhancing your child’s knowledge.
- It helps motivate children to get better at communication and encourages freedom of self-expression.