Last month bbc.com released an article, Safer Internet Day: Young ignore ‘social media age limit’, which discusses the varying perspectives on how young should children be subjected to social media. Often times when parents think of social media, it holds a negative connotation for them. In a survey from CBBC Newsround, as depicted in the article, “More than three-quarters of children aged 10 to 12 in the UK have social media accounts, even though they are below the age limit,”.
The study was conducted in partnership with the UK celebration, Safer Internet Day, which took place on February 9th. The UK Safer Internet Centre launched the event in efforts to to promote safe and responsible usage of digital technology amongst our youth. In partnership with over a thousand organisations, UK Safer Internet Centre gives schools the opportunity to explore these issues with students through films and education packs. Most social media platforms set their age restrictions at 13 and over, predominantly due to a US law called Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act which prohibits operators of websites or online services from collecting personal information on children under 13 online. The study depicted in that article goes on to share that of the 1,200 people surveyed, between the ages of 10-18, 49% of children under 13 claimed to be users of Facebook.
What’s unfortunate about the situation at hand is that children can lie about their age, as proof is rarely required. These social media platforms are regulated to an extent, but children are still subjected to vulgar and offensive language. What’s becoming increasingly common amongst young teens on these social channels is cyber bullying and gossip. The fact of the matter is, kids are more prone to say unkind things about others while behind a computer screen. Online bullying and the spreading of gossip can be extremely detrimental to a child’s self-esteem and mental health.
Overall, the internet can certainly be beneficial to our youth aside from the social media aspect. There is a large market of websites that can benefit a child both academically and creatively, it’s just a matter of monitoring.
Check back for more blog posts from Panos Petropoulos, or visit his education blog at panospetropoulos.be!