Facebook; When is it too soon to start?
anonymous Asks ...
Does social media turn kids into narcissists or bullies or victims? At what age is a tween or child ready for facebook? Facebook prohibits under 13s but this is widely ignored. Is there any information out there on how well kids are able to make use of social media like facebook? Does it do them harm? I won’t let my 11 year old daughter have an account and she tells me (and shows me) that all her friends are on it. Should I let her join the rest of the world or are my parenting caution instincts right?
Rebecca Ashton Says ...
Social media has its uses, but it also has a dark side. It is an extremely easy way for anyone to attract whatever kind of attention that they want, but it also follows that it is just as easy, if not more so, to attract unwelcome attention too.
While it's true that many people ignore the age restriction, it has to be remembered that Facebook was not designed for children and that by signing up to the site, they are in effect socialising with much older people which presents many risks. It also raises the question; how can you expect your child to be honest about their online activity if you have allowed them to lie about their age to sign up to Facebook?
I don't believe that there is a hard and fast rule about what age a child/tween should start using social media, because everyone is different.That said, many children simply don't/won't understand the security risks that they may come across online-I actually know a few adults who don't either!
I would say that whatever age that social networking becomes an option, the biggest priority is thoroughly educating your child on internet safety. (There are many resources for this online which you can find via Google.) This doesn't just cover cyber-bullying and sexual predators, but extends to things like viruses, phishing and hackers.
Facebook can be a pleasant experience, but sadly there are always going to be people who abuse the system so awareness is incredibly important. Online interactions are very different to real time interactions and it is very easy to agree to say or do things that we would never consider in real life, which can later lead to regret, or worse.
You know your daughter better than anyone and if it doesn't feel right, then I feel that you could do worse than to listen to your instincts. Perhaps you could compromise with a test run on a child friendly networking site when you feel that the time is right?