Technology Tuesday: When Should my Child be Allowed on Social Media?

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We are asked constantly about what age is appropriate for my child to have this gadget or that.  We believe that what is most important is twofold:

1) the world your child lives in socially

2) the emotional age of your child.

Something we say constantly in parenting seminars is that you don’t want your child to be the first and you don’t want your child to be the last to______________.  Fill in the blank with anything, including owning gadgets and signing up for social media sites.  If your child is the first, they will often be perceived as faster or wilder or more on the cutting edge of things, which is not where you want your child to live.  If they are the last on every trendy gadget or privilege, they will often be the ones who rebel.  You can choose one or two things to hold out on, but kids often rise to the level of trust we place in them.  You want to gradually expose them to social media and let themselves prove they are responsible.

However, every child is different in terms of maturity.  You may have a son who is simply not ready to be exposed to social media in middle school (or with boys, just may not really even care yet).  You may have a daughter who you know that photos of every birthday party she’s not invited to will do more damage than she needs at this point.  Pay attention to where your child is, as well.

Finally, we would definitely encourage you to pay attention to the age parameters that are already provided by social media sites.  They are in place for a reason.  Most sites require a child to be 13 years old before signing up.  Twitter, however, does not but strongly suggests it.  I have had many parents whose children have told them there are no age requirements.  Again, we need to be informed.  Here is just a sample of a few social media’s requirements (and suggestions) for allowing your child to reach the mature old age of 13 before they sign up:

Twitter:

Our Services are not directed to persons under 13. If you become aware that your child has provided us with personal information without your consent, please contact us at privacy@twitter.com. We do not knowingly collect personal information from children under 13. If we become aware that a child under 13 has provided us with personal information, we take steps to remove such information and terminate the child's account. You can find additional resources for parents and teens here.

Instagram:

Instagram does not knowingly collect or solicit any information from anyone under the age of 13 or knowingly allow such persons to register for the Service. The Service and its content are not directed at children under the age of 13. In the event that we learn that we have collected personal information from a child under age 13 without parental consent, we will delete that information as quickly as possible. If you believe that we might have any information from or about a child under 13, please contact us.

Facebook:

Facebook requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account (in some jurisdictions, this age limit may be higher). Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.

And Tumblr wins the ward for creativity in their directives.

You have to be at least 13 years old to use Tumblr. We're serious: it's a hard rule, based on U.S. federal and state legislation. “But I’m, like, 12.9 years old!” you plead. Nope, sorry. If you're younger than 13, don't use Tumblr. Ask your parents for a Playstation 4, or try books.

We love Tumblr’s suggestion on buying books! 

Stay tuned next Tuesday for more Technology Tips and help on being more informed than your tech savvy teen (or child)!