Monday, November 2, 2009

Kids and Social Networking - What's the Right Age?

Although social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have reported flattened growth (perhaps due to more choices and users getting picky), there is no doubt that social networking is flourishing. Just like the telephone changed the world, followed by email, now we have numerous more ways to connect and communicate.

Most social networking sites have minimum age requirements for setting up a profile. Facebook requires it's users to be 13 years old, and MySpace has similar requirements. But more and more users are ignoring those requirements and setting up profiles at younger ages.

So what's a parent to do? My own kids ask about opening an account. I tell them they need to wait until they meet the minimum age requirements, all the while their friends are socializing on these sites. I figure there must be reasoning behind the minimum age requirements, but is there? Is there some inherent risk to having a Facebook profile that is no longer prevalent when the child turns 13?

Here are some interesting articles on social media growth and statistics, and kids usage of these networking sites.

STATS: Facebook and Twitter’s Growth Flattens

Social Networking -

Social networks and kids: How young is too young? -

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


Dorlana said...

I think that as long as it is set to private, the parents are a friend and have access to the password - and the child knows know the rules (don't add anyone you don't know and don't give out personal info) it's fine. So i guess Facebook etc thinks that 13 is the age when they can understand how to be safe -

Sheryl Tuttle said...

Yea - it probably depends more on the readiness of the kid and how well they understand the risks and safety issues. Thanks for commenting.

Peter Millward said...

In my opinion social networking sites should be banned. There isnt a day goes by without some problem or tragedy occurring because of the misuse and abuse not to mention the lack of wisdom when people post stuff. It creates problems and gives children ideas for mischief. Its a Pandoras box which has been opened on society and its contents have not been fully understood.

Sheryl Tuttle said...

Peter - thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts. Maybe I am a little in the dark, but I haven't heard of a lot of tragedies resulting from social networking (admittedly, there have been some). I think as parents we need to continually remind our kids that social networking is public and that once out there, what is said or done cannot be removed. Again, thanks for stopping by.