How young is too young for social media?

There has been a lot of talk in the news and over drinks about kids and their use of technology, and whether the younger ones are emotionally ready to handle the wider world which these tools let into their lives. Facebook, for example, requires that you must be over 13 in order to be a member. Of course, in this world and with the wily youth, this is not so hard to get past. There is the concern that the typical kid drama that once used to be limited to school playgrounds and hallways, with innocent childhood pranks, would now escalate to full blown trauma with online bullying and cyber malice.

Imagine your child being the subject of a sinister Facebook group, where schoolmates weigh in on how much he/she sucks. This can be really traumatic on a child, and these are real concerns being raised by real parents and school administrators. But is the real enemy the technology? I mean, shouldn't the onus be on the adults to monitor what their children are doing online, especaially since there are bigger sharks out there than the neighbourhood kid with a grudge, namely the adult predators, seeking out unsupervised and vulnerable children.

Is restricting kids' use of computers the answer?. Of course not. This is the technology generation, where changes are afoot every minute. It is simply not practical for the caution tape to be placed around the computer desk in this day and age. So the questions parents should be asking then, is

  • Do you know where your kids are?
  • Do you know how long they stay online every day?
  • Do you know what your kids are sharing online?
  • Do you know what content they are posting?
  • Do you know if they are being talked about or if they are doing the talking?
  • Do you know if they are being malicious to other children online?
  • Have you talked to them about social media?
  • Does their school have a social media policy for its students?
  • Are their teachers monitoring their online activity at school?

And if they are using these sites,
Some parents don't see anything wrong with their kids being on Facebook, for example.

I have allowed my kids to have one. I set up their make sure that they can't be found by just anyone. Actually, after I went to look for them, before I was their friend, I couldn't find them. Their friends haven't been able to find them either, so unless I provide a direct link, they can't be found, unless they are on someone else's list. They have gotten requests from people they don't know, and I have told them, not to accept anyone they don't know. I go and check their accounts and their friends list on a regular basis and if they can't tell me where they know the person from, then I delete them. This has only happened once in the last 6 months. As anything in life, if the parent is involved in their kids' life, and give them good instruction, most of the time, it's ok. It's also been a great way for my family that lives far away to talk to the kids. We don't live close to's a great way to keep them connected. - Felis (

Some don't agree.
I think that allowing them into some sort of social networking site is good in order to teach them internet responsibility - however - it seems pretty impossible to navigate facebook without seeing things inappropriate for children. An kids orientated alternative I might agree to, but facebook? No. - kab (

There are more kid-friendly social networking sites like FBFKids and Club Penguin, but the other sites will always be there for anyone who wants to sign up, child or adult. And so will mobile phones, television, video games and all the other bells and whistles which come with our technological evolution and that come with their own "dangers".

The question is, where will you be?

Great article on the use of social media in the classroom.


SanMan said...

HA at FBFKids... they have a terms of service that even i could get lost in... i'm supposedly an adult... anyway...

this was part of a discussion we had on the NObehaviourSHOW and my stance was that they need to be monitored and after time allowed to fend for themsleves... something that no responsible parent will ever fully let happen anyway...

i have been online since my teens as well... with a budding one in the household now... first thing is that many parents themselves are unaware of problems issues associated with an online presence... if they dont know better i cant expect them to be able to police their kids...

their children will learn by example... have a chat that like the school yard the internet has people, places and things that you would need to steer clear of... watch what info you share and to whom... dont talk to strangers ring a bell... just because they look friendly... you get the drift...

parents now have to adapt quickly coz Social Media is the _ish... online is here to stay... Xbox PS and Wii... interacting with the world...

trinidarlin said...

One of the comments I read today was that kids should not have a computer until they are 13, should not be allowed to use a computer by themselves, should only charge the laptop in the presence of an adult and when accessing the internet outside of the house, should only use computers at the library under the supervisision of a library official. I could not believe what I was reading. I agree with you. Like with anything else, parents need to sit and have the talk with kids about this stuff. Not the birds and the bees talk, but the tweets and tag talk.

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