Firstly, let’s look at the required age for signing up with varied Social Media platforms:
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).
YouTube: The minimum is thirteen years old to open an account on YouTube.
Twitter: Once again, the minimum age as per their privacy page is 13.
Pinterest: Coming in at 13 again is Pinterest…
What this all tells us is that these social media platforms are mostly in agreement that 13 years of age and above is legally the requirement for signing up with them and no doubt for using / perusing their member content. Most people using social media will be of ages 13 and above and most of the features and offers will appeal to the adult community, though it is recognised that many children do use social media platforms for enjoyment so when is too young really too young to be using social media?
As a household with numerous internet accessing devices (last counting 14) ranging from mobile phones to the family television, it is very hard to say to children not to go on social media websites… I am forever looking for my iPad which one of the children have usually taken to watch videos on YouTube! Our children all use social media to gather information relating to their interests from latest pop star news to highlights of yesterday evenings football and as this trend of using the likes of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube increases it is surely important that children are introduced to what is all about and how to find relevant information? Just like the internet, social media itself can contain some ugly bits too so it is always highly recommended that you pay great attention to what children are doing on line and especially who they are talking too… Our children know how to use Skype and forever calling friends to live video chat with them, but we monitor each new contact on their list regularly so we know who they are talking to. We would recommend to view Chris Hansen’s videos on YouTube entitled ‘To Catch a Predator‘ which highlights the vulnerability of children on line and what can happen if things are not monitored by parents.
Should children have their own accounts on Social Media? Again, big debatable topic for which we are not knowledgeable enough to give advise, but we do see the advantage of children understanding social media and having accounts that are constructive for their education. As an example our children have YouTube accounts and enjoy filming and editing videos to showcase from the well known ‘Diet Coke and Mentos’ tricks to educational videos from their visits to the local zoo – There is amazing talent across social media, especially on YouTube of children to include music, sports, acting and more… Social Media does open up a whole new world for children and with proper guidance and monitoring from parents, can provide them a platform to get recognised early where many industries are always searching for the youngest stars – Examples being Britain’s Got Talent, X-Factor and even scout for top football clubs.
There is no right or wrong answer to this debate, but we would sure like to hear from those who have comments to share: