About 7.5 million Facebook users are under the age of thirteen. Assuming these children signed up guided by a discerning adult, there is no problem. Otherwise, unsupervised social media use might expose underage kids to potential risks.
To promote the online safety and privacy of these young consumers, the Federal Trade Commission implemented the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This rule regulates how webmasters collect information from children under 13. Protective parents adhere to the age restriction imposed by COPPA.
Meanwhile, the other group allows their kids to have an early experience with social networking sites. Perhaps the latter agrees with Mark Zuckerberg’s statement: “for education, you need to start at a really, really young age.”
The Good Side of Social Media
Social media may not be totally bad for kids. Here are a few benefits worth mentioning:
- Enhanced communication with family and friends
The reach of social networking sites is both far and fast. Family members and friends who are miles apart may now share stories, interests, and updates about their lives in real time. Social media savvy children now have a wider network and cultural experience through sites such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook.
- Opportunities for community engagement
Social media sites make it easy for like-minded people to create groups and collaborate on campaigns, projects, or studies that interest them.
- Access to free educational programs
YouTube channels have some excellent educational programs in a wide variety of subjects such as Science, Math or Language Arts. It would be a great regret for your kids to miss these high-quality academic tutorials and educational shows available for free.
Risks of Using Social Media by Underage Users (Children under 13 years old)
On the flip side, studies show that excessive and unguided social media use could lead to these troubles:
- Cyber bullying
It’s easy to falsify one’s identity online so bullies abound in the virtual world. They may use your child’s public posts to embarrass or harass him.
If your child spends a lot of time on social networking sites, they may be prone to feelings of isolation and aggression. Without proper intervention, this might lead to depression. Talk to the child about their views on acceptance and observe how he interacts with his peers online.
- Exposure to Inappropriate Content
Not all social media contents are child-friendly. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube may allow posts that are inappropriate for underage users.
- Addiction and procrastination
Children get hooked into gaming communities online like Gaia Online, Cellufun, and Facebook games. Chatting, gaming, and video streaming are all potential distractions, which compete with productive activities like reading, playing musical instruments or joining active sports.
Notice that the disadvantages of social media seem to outweigh its advantages. Smart parents know when social media deters their child’s growth and development.
Find a sound strategy to avoid the perils of social media while tapping its amazing resources for your child’s greatest benefit.
Written by Guest Blogger: Ericka Scmidt