Today, almost everyone has a Facebook, Instagram or some other form of social media. Many people even have accounts on multiple networking apps and sites. Social media is becoming a bigger and bigger part of everyday life, so when should it become part of your child’s?
Well first it is important to know that there are laws that have to deal with children’s privacy online. The Children’s Online Privacy Act affects online companies that are made for children under the age of 13 and also limits the amount of information that other companies can collect on children that are 13 or younger. Facebook wants nothing to do with the COPA so they do not want children under the age of thirteen using their social media website. Of course that doesn’t mean your child can’t have a Facebook account but you will have to lie about their age to make one. But is letting your underage child have an account on social media a good idea? The answer isn’t just a simple yes or no. Every child is different and each one develops at individual rates. One of the most important things that they must understand are consequences.
The scary fact is that almost half of the children in America, 10 and under, are on social media. The most popular site for these kids is Facebook. Do these children understand that what they put online is there forever? Do they understand that this information is also open to the public? And if their privacy settings are not set up properly, what they post can be seen by everyone? It takes time for children to develop their sense of the world and their place in it. Some children, even if they are older, may not have developed at the same rate as others around them have. Without the proper development and understanding, social media can be dangerous for children, especially if they do not understand the consequences.
Social media takes down the barrier between a child’s public and private self. Too much social media involvement and sharing can lead to your child being vulnerable. The risks come from the exposure that they get online, from sites that may not be exactly age appropriate. Most social media is not built for children, especially younger ones and the content isn’t controlled in the slightest. The content and people that they may face online could be far beyond their age and maturity. They may not be emotionally prepared for any of this and it could cause mental damage that could affect them way later in life as a result.
So as a parent what should you do? Unfortunately times have changed and simply stopping your child from going online isn’t enough to protect them. Fortunately there are multiple things you can do to keep your child safe on social media… Stay Tuned for Part 2