For any child there are certain age thresholds that they pass as they grow. It can be becoming a teenage or being able to drive or being able to vote (among other things). One of the earliest that children will come to is when they can create a social media account and join the online community.

What is the right age to allow them to join? In some ways that question is answered for you as many of the social media giants like Facebook and Twitter will not let anyone under the age of 13 join. There is actually a law preventing children under 13 from opening an account without parental consent, not for their safety but to keep companies from gathering data about them to market products to them. For some social media accounts the minimum age is much older. All social media services have a reporting option available for anyone who has joined to identify underage users but that does not stop children of course. In many families the children are much more tech savvy than their parents are and their parents choose the path of least resistance in kind of the same way TV became a baby-sitter for many new parents.

To answer the question depends on the child. Think about your memories. At 13 would you be able to handle a Facebook page? Would everyone else that you remember at that age be able to handle one? Probably not. Children mature at different rates. Their interpersonal skills develop at different rates. Their brains develop at different rates too. There are children at 10 years old that could handle an Instagram account responsibly and yet there are adults that cannot handle one responsibly. You know your child, are they ready?

Chances are one of your child’s friends has a Facebook page so of course your child wants one as well. It is only natural after all as the adults in the family have one. The problem is that your child’s brain is still developing. They are not able to think about the what-if’s of life just yet. They haven’t experienced what life can throw at them and conversely may not be able to handle it well. The content that they post may seem innocent to them and just something for their friends. Others may see it differently and that may not be a good thing. Children, especially pre-teenage children, do not understand that their actions can have consequences. Ask yourself a question, is what my child is going to put online respectful to others? If it is not there is no reason to let them on social media.

There are a lot of negative things in the social media realm, things that a child should not see and should not be exposed to. If you do not think your child can handle it do not let them onto social media. The world is a cruel place. You want to protect your child as long as you can after all.

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