The internet can be a dangerous place for young minds. Not only can they come across something controversial and inappropriate, they can also be exposed to potential cyber threats and bullying. While social media platforms have an authorized age in place to sign up to their platforms, many kids are entering a fake age and signing up anyway.
There has been some debate over the years about how young is too young for kids to start using social media. While many social apps require a minimum age of thirteen, parents need to determine whether their teen is mature enough for their own social media account.
According to the Common Sense Census, which was based on a national survey of 1,700 parents in the United States with kids aged 8 to 18, 56% of youth have their own social media accounts. Around 80% of teens had a social media account, while 23% of tweens (children aged 8 to 12) had one.
The survey also showed that the average age for kids when kids signed up for social media accounts was 12.6 years.
Most social platforms require people to add a birth year when they sign up. A person should be at least 13 years of age. While they claim that the age verification is there to protect kids from online dangers, there are other reasons.
Social media platforms show personalized content such as advertisements. There are laws state that underage children should not be shown inappropriate ads, for example ads containing alcohol.
What this means is that while social platforms may have control over the ads that appear on their platforms, they cannot determine if kids have used a fake age to sign up. Most social platforms have ways of reporting someone who could be underage.
Potential Dangers of Early Exposure to Inappropriate Content
There is a lot of content on social media that is not suitable for children. These days TikTok is considered one of the most popular social platforms but there are reasons why you should not let your kids watch TikTok videos unsupervised. Some videos on TikTok show potentially dangerous activities. There are also countless videos which contain “false information”. In other words, malicious content which misrepresents political, cultural, or social topics.
Many social media platforms show continuous reels of content. This places kids in a vulnerable position because they don’t get to choose what they want to see, but are shown content automatically.
From violent and inappropriate content, exposure to things that are not age-appropriate could leave a mark on a young mind. Every social media platform has ways to report content that could be considered unlawful or offensive.
It is difficult to prescribe an age limit for kids to start using social media because every kid is different. Some teens may be more mature at the age of 13, whereas others may need a few more years to mature to a level that makes them use social media responsibly.
Kids should not be under the age of the social media platform’s limit, which is 13 in most cases. On some platforms they need to be older. For example dating app users need to be at least 18 years old.
When they sign up to a social platform, teens need to be aware of the dangers that they could face. Some online threats may include things like witnessing inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and cyberstalking. When using social media, they should make sure that their parent or guardian is aware of what they’re doing online. In many cases, social platforms have protections in place for minors which parents should check carefully.
Parents should also do everything they can to protect their kids from online predators. In other words, kids shouldn’t be using social media before they’re able to avoid online dangers.
According to privacyhq.com, 78% of parents think that social media companies should be doing more to protect kids. One in 5 parents discovered that their child had created a fake Instagram account. Whereas 63% of parents were worried that their child was taking TikTok videos too seriously by trying to replicate them to go viral themselves. Parents and social platforms should take responsibility to protect teens and kids online.
Parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing on the internet, including which platforms they are signing up for. There are questions to ask your kids about their social media use without intruding too much on their privacy.
Safety Is Key
Online safety is important for everyone, especially kids who are embarking on their internet journey. With so much content out there, social media companies are unable to censor it all, so it is up to the parent to determine which sites their kids can and can’t access.
While the authorized age to access social media is thirteen, parents need to make sure their kids are mature enough to use social media responsibly.