Updated: Nov 26
In our increasingly digitized world, the debate of whether children should be given access to some social media platforms continues to be a point of contention. A 2021 survey conducted by Common Sense Media discovered that half of all children possess their own social media accounts by age 12, even though the usual minimum age requirement for social media apps is typically age 13 or higher. And some feel that that's even too young to engage. This situation sheds a light on an issue where we have kids often engaging on social media even before they even meet the age criteria.
On one hand, it’s important to recognize that social media, in and of itself, is not inherently evil. It offers many positive advantages. It enables children to establish and maintain connections with family and friends. It serves as a valuable platform for educational pursuits, and nurtures avenues for creative expression and self-discovery. For any parent, the prospect of their child harnessing these benefits is undeniably enticing.
However, it is crucial to confront the alarming reality of online predators. According to statistics, at any given moment, approximately 500,000 internet predators are actively engaged in pursuing children through various online personas. The risks don’t end there, we also have the ever-present dangers of cyberbullying and exposure to inappropriate content that further complicate the technological landscape. Let’s not forget the detrimental effects it can have on a child’s mental well-being, including the risk of diminished self-esteem, sleep issues, fear of missing out (FOMO), and decreased physical activity. These factors alone should ring the alarm of concern for any parent, educator, or policymaker.
But as always, in the end, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, social norms have changed, and each child is unique. We want our children to have a safe and healthy online experience, so when deciding if your child should have an account, here are some factors for your consideration: your child's age, maturity level, how much parental supervision you'll provide, understanding digital literacy and sites your child should be aware of, peer pressure, consent and boundaries and the consequences of not following the parameters you set.
These points are not all inclusive and I invite you to join the conversation with your thoughts and experiences regarding children and social media. I encourage you to share.