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Chanda Gohrani admin
Chanda Gohrani
Social media manager of Quib.ly
London, GB

7 experts and 8 parents have answered

expert answer
Robert Hart-Fletcher expert
Robert Hart-Fletcher Consultant and Developer GB
E-safety expert

OK lets get real! There are millions of kids under 13 on Facebook. Most of them are having a good time online and are safe. A few are bothered by predatory adults and bullying peers - these tend to be vulnerable kids without the benefit of supportive parents. See the research at EU Kids Online:

http://www2.lse.ac.uk/media@lse/research/EUKidsOnline/Home.aspx

A child of 10 could benefit from the social interaction and learning that FB offers, so long as he is protected by his parents. So, here's your 3-point plan:

  1. Make a deal with your under 13 child that you must be his first FB friend. Then you can keep an eye of what he's doing.
  2. Learn the FB privacy settings together, so he can make his profile visible to FRIENDS ONLY.
  3. Teach him how to check out friend requests and make a deal that he only accepts them when you are BOTH confident that they are safe. Then stand back and watch.

Treat this as a learning journey. Take every incident that arises as an opportunity to discuss with your child and improve his safety strategy.

10 Reply Share:
Experience 4 years ago
Holly Seddon admin
Holly Seddon Editor-in-chief of Quib.ly Kent, UK

The fact is, the age limit is 13, so 13 is the earliest that a child should have a Facebook account. The way I see it, that's immovable. A parent that allows their child to sign up before 13, is openly breaking a rule. In America, this age of 13 comes from a Federal law (COPPA) about child safety and internet usage. I don't know why any parent would OK rule-breaking.

It's very important to me that my kids follow the rules of our home, the rules of school, the rules of grammar even. When they are older, I would be very disappointed if they didn't respect the rules of the road. I want them to accept that they have to operate by the same rules that everyone else does, that that is fair on everyone.

I'm not saying they shouldn't question and debate rules in life, but flagrantly breaking them with my permission, seems like very mixed parenting messages.

Facebook isn't designed with keeping kids safe in mind - that's fair enough too, because kids aren't supposed to be there. There are multiple places that children under 13 can be social online, Facebook isn't one of them. My 11-year-old doesn't have an account. On her 13th birthday (just like piercing her ears was) I like to imagine it will be an exciting milestone for us both to help her sign up. Legitimately.

8 Reply Share:
Opinion 4 years ago
expert answer
Brian Housman expert
Brian Housman Parenting Communicator Memphis, US
Technology expert

One argument seems to be that social interaction on Facebook can be a good thing. Another argument stated here is that every other child under thirteen is already on the site so why should my child. To the first argument I would respond that even if social interaction on Facebook could be a "good thing," it still does not make it the best thing. The best thing for a ten year old is to learn face to face interaction with peers, to learn critical thinking skills through interaction with mom and dad, and to learn creative expression by playing outside and with others. A ten year old may be able to socialize online, but he/she will have their whole life to do that. Is it really worth rushing the process?

The second argument silly in light of the advice that we would give our children not to follow the whims of the crowd. What is not outlined in the argument is how many of those children have been victims of cyberbullying, lose precious sleep because of media overexpose, or have been inadvertently introduced to internet pornography. Could perhaps some of this been avoided (or at the very least delayed) by waiting to the ripe old age or thirteen to jump onto one more social network?

The biggest issue that hasn't been discussed is the one of personal integrity. In the US, more than half of all eleven and twelve year olds are on Facebook. Of those, more than 70% said their parents helped them to setup their account. Facebook clearly states that the minimum age for membership is thirteen. What this mean is that those parents modeled to their children that honesty is really not that big of a deal.

I've told my son on many occasions that integrity is determined by what you do in private that no one will every know about. When you choose to do what is right even when there is no reward or public recognition, seeds of integrity are taking root. Having my children grow up to be a man and woman of honor is far more important to me that whether or not they can be on Facebook at eleven.

Parenting is difficult for all of us. But that difficulty is only compounded when our children are not able to look at us as their models of truth and honestly. You can read a chapter on Facebook safety and boundaries in my book Tech Savvy Parenting. http://amzn.to/12ZkM5O.

5 Reply Share:
Experience 4 years ago
expert answer
Terry Doherty expert
Terry Doherty Parent literacy expert US

Thirteen may be perfect for some and too early for others. What bothers me most about these "under-age" kids with Facebook accounts where Mom and Dad are aware and/or condone it, is the example it sets. It tells the kids that Mom and Dad think its okay to lie about your age AND break the rules. Kids (with or without their parents' consent) are setting up accounts. If they're doing it on the sly, then parents have a lot bigger problem than FB's Terms and Conditions.

3 Reply Share:
Opinion 4 years ago
expert answer
Richard Taylor expert
Richard Taylor Father of 4 boys & IT Consultant Bushmills, GB
Technology expert

Our eldest son has had a facebook account since he was 9, and our next youngest since he was 7 and is in Primary 5. In his class, there are only 7 children who are not on facebook. In Primary 6, there are only 3 who are not on facebook. Its not a dangerous thing or in any way a scary thing. Put the child in your family group, have rules about passwords and friend requests, and only make facebook accessible on the family computer in the living room. To be honest, they only thing that boys use facebook for is gaming.

2 Reply ( 2 ) Share:
Experience 4 years ago
expert answer
Jon Tarrant expert
Jon Tarrant E-Safety Manager for Schools JE

As I understand it, COPPA only forbids US web companies from collecting children's (under 13) data without parental consent: so if a parent is happy for his/her child to have a FB account then that lets FB off the hook regarding COPPA compliance. It's important to appreciate that COPPA is a law that binds the web company, not the users. When an under-13 joins FB, it is FB that is breaking the law (although the under-13 is breaking FB's Terms and Conditions, so can be expelled without further notice). I'm not a fan of FB but I think it's important to be clear about where the legal responsibilities reside.

1 Reply Share:
Opinion 4 years ago
Joanne Mallon writer
Joanne Mallon Author, parent, blogger Brighton, The City of Brighton and Hove, UK

My daughter is planning to spend time on her 13th birthday (which is in a few weeks) signing up to Facebook. She's practically the last one in her class to do so, many parents just don't seem to be aware of the age limit or choose to ignore it. I'm quite proud of her that she's been happy to wait until she's 13.

1 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 4 years ago
expert answer
Leonie Smith expert
Leonie Smith Cyber safety consultant AU
E-safety expert

Boy a few diverse answers and opinions here.

  1. Facebook do not allow kids under 13yrs of age with or without parental consent. If a profile is reported it matters not that the parent allowed it to be set up.

  2. Depends on your understanding of "safe" if you mean that there is no adult content on there that your child can be exposed to, or that predators do not exist on Facebook and cannot contact your child. Then you are incorrect. You child can search for adult pages on Facebook, and there are plenty. Pages that promote drug use, anorexia, self harm and porn. Also there are documented cases where kids have been approached by adults pretending to be teens or kids, who have groomed kids through Facebook. Friending your child is a start but it's not safe. You as an adult friending your child would have no clue what your child is searching for on Facebook, and won't know that this new "best" child friend is an adult. You also cannot see who your child is messaging as a friend. A recent client of mine's daughter was talking to a pedophile through her messaging and using Facebook's built in video messenger to take her clothes off for him. The mother saw it happening as she was walking past and called the police....and me.

  3. Facebook is designed for adults NOT children.

  4. The get kids used to social networks early is a silly argument. Using that argument we could also say, get kids ready for being street wise early, send them down the local shops by themselves at 11pm. Lets get them ready for drinking wisely and serve them a glass of wine at 8 years old. None of this is necessary.

Kids having problems on Facebook is not RARE its common you just don't hear about it...but I do. I'm at the coalface. I know many parents are not telling other parents what is happening on Facebook because they are protecting their kids, and also embarrassed that they didn't know what was going on, and that they let their kid on Facebook under age.

1 Reply Share:
Experience 4 years ago
expert answer
Matt Groves expert
Matt Groves Technology Guru ZA
Technology expert

It concerns me greatly the number of children on Facebook today. They are experiencing levels of adult exposure in a way that never used to be possible; children were shielded by parents, schools and families from the adult interaction and activity that seems to be rapidly becoming part of every day life.

For example, I have a number of family child members who are now friends and listed as family on Facebook. Apart from the obvious security implications of this, I now must consciously consider whether I want them to see or be a part of my online social media memberships, updates and information. Generally I create a restricted group, add them as members are then they never receive an of my updates, shares, likes, and so on.

The positives, however, such as sharing in their experiences, achievements, photos and learning, are obvious. Especially with a dispersed family and/or friends who they do not see regularly and are able to share with more regularly than they would have done.

So, in summary I feel that they should be automatically protected in some way - with "adult" based filtering an automated Facebook process until they are for example 16 years of age - and only then they are able to disable the restriction. The biggest problem is enforcing this. It's all too easy for a child to sign up to Facebook and other social media platforms with little, or no verification.

1 Reply Share:
Experience 4 years ago
Kristin Bennett McNeely
Kristin Bennett McNeely Techie Designer Mom Seattle, Washington

I have seen child facebook accounts being used in BEAUTIFUL ways, for example:

I got a friend request one day from a friend's son, who I wasn't even sure could talk yet. I asked her about how she deals with people's criticism and she explained to me that it hasn't been to bad, mostly because she has a VERY good reason for him having one.

She and her husband are divorced, and it gave a crystal clear way to share information about her son with them, without HER having to remain friends with the ex-in-laws. So he has an account, all set up for when he is old enough to type, that is connected to supportive people hand selected by Mama too.

Being mom of a girl whose dad I'm no longer in a relationship I think this is a great way to look at this whole debate...I'll say that maybe it IS ok to have an account from this young young age, but maybe said youngin doesn't get to possess/access it until they are 13, til then it is via mom/dad or maybe with them aside.

0 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 3 years ago
Олег Кияшко
Олег Кияшко Don't mind my display name >.< Kyiv, Ukraine

I don't think anybody, even teens, should have a facebook account at all. I know that there are millions of kids under 13 on facebook - I have absolutely NOTHING against them (maybe, it's more convenient for them), I don't report them, and in fact, I don't even add anybody!!!

These days, "facebookism" has became a sort of discrimination and "one of the rules of Internet". Many websites require facebook account to join. Many websites consider facebook as the only reliable and perpetual thing that may help people get in touch with each other. Trust me, that's not true. You DON'T have to have a facebook account to be the full-privileged Internet user. Facebook is NOT the only reliable source of people and the way of communication. There are plenty of other ones - e-mail is, in fact, a very reliable way to talk online. There is NO universal rule for all worldwide e-mail providers or all websites overall.

As about 13 years old age limit - I don't think there should be even efforts to separate mature people from immature ones, and use age as a criteria for so. Even adults can often be very immature, sometimes paranoic, ignorant and stuck in the past. History has some examples of such people (i.e. Luddites, Amish etc). Children, especially around 13 years old (not older, AROUND), are usually very progressive, and have more flexible perception than adults. Children younger than 13 are naturally open-minded. Their open-mindedness is usually the reason why adults think that they can't make their own decisions. Decision making skills is usually based upon experience, and not age. Will two adults, one of which has never rode roller coaster, and another had one ride on roller coaster, altogether say it's deadly and can lead to faint?

0 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Anja birt
Anja birt Mother of 4 ES

I don't actually agree with what u are suggesting. Don't we have to bring up honest children? If we start saying to them that it's ok to lie in order to get a facebook account, what's next? Surely that will make the kids think that it's ok?

0 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 3 years ago
Scott Collen admin
Scott Collen Social and Community Geek London, GB

Facebook (even if it dies out) is hugely important simply because of it's size and the lessons we've learnt using it.

We teach kids to read at 2/3 if not younger, this enables them to do anything that requires reading. Then we teach them how to understand the words. Understanding words in the context of facebook is what they should be taught.

0 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Anonymous
Anonymous

age 13 or older. this is to avoid intentional people reporting you.

0 Reply Share:
Fact 3 months ago
Jessica Alley
Jessica Alley

It is better for children to enjoy their years without the intervention of social media. In rushmyessay.com review, it is written that children should be allowed to learn the use of social media after 14. At that age they will have at least some mature thoughts and would understand the uses of such platforms.

0 Reply Share:
Opinion 1 month ago

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