Facebook has taken a stand on this question since their inception by setting a minimum age limit for its users at 13 years of age. But just because Facebook says 13 year olds may use their social media service doesn’t mean that parents need to allow their kids to become users, does it? Here are some thoughts on the subject.
There are some parents who don’t see a need for setting a minimum age limit for Facebook users. Some of these parents simply aren’t concerned with their child’s interaction on the web, any more than they are concerned with any other aspects of their child’s life. Other parents who aren’t concerned about a minimum age have a very different reason. Their reasoning is based on their involvement with their kid’s activities online. They do not allow their kids full and uncensored access to the internet in any form. They have parental controls in place and seldom allow their young children on the internet without their presence there beside them. They may see Facebook as a connecting place with family.
Since Facebook has set this as the minimum age to join their network, many people have accepted this as being the appropriate age. Peer pressure enters into this big time. Facebook has said ‘it’s ok’ and ‘all my friends’ are using Facebook, so why shouldn’t I? There are a lot of fun games and learning opportunities on Facebook for kids this age, but there are dangers as well. Teens this age can be very vulnerable to adults and other teens who might use Facebook to gain a connection with them. Young teens can easily feel flattered by attention from others and innocently assume that people are who and what they represent themselves to be. This puts them at risk for predators of many different kinds. Kids this age often have very volatile emotions as well. This means that everything becomes magnified in their minds. Hurts wound deeper and friendships are taken very seriously. Thirteen may be old enough to use Facebook, but for most kids thirteen to fifteen, their use of this and other social media should be closely monitored and guarded with strict rules of behavior.
Some parents have held the line and refused to allow their kids to engage in social media activities until they are sixteen and in high school. Since, at this age, they are old enough to gain a drivers license, it is assumed that they should also be responsible enough to handle social media activities. Other parents have encouraged their kids to avoid the social media craze simply because it can be a distraction and a time waster, and they want their kids to remain focused on more important aspects of their life than socializing.
In reality, there is no magic age that fits every situation or every child. Since Facebook has set a minimum age of thirteen, it is wise of parents to support this age limit by not allowing their younger children to circumvent the rules by posting a false birthdate. Each child has a different level of maturity. It is the maturity level and sense of responsibility of your child that should be considered when making this decision, not just their age. Regardless of the age, teens should be taught how to use social media safely and responsibly. When rules are not followed, the privilege should be removed.