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Kids are flocking to social networking sites like never before. Thanks to greater internet penetration, Facebook now has an ever-increasing presence in our lives. When should you let your kids on Facebook? And how do you protect them from the dangers of cyberspace?
Social media has become the latest place to hang out. Some of your children’s friends probably already have Facebook accounts and they’ve been hankering after you to sign up too. But as much as you’d like to indulge them, just think if it’s too early to expose them to the vulnerabilities of social media? How do you decide when the right time is to introduce your children to Facebook?
What’s the Right Age to Create a Facebook Account for Kids?
Times are changing and just like how you pestered your parents to let you hang out with your friends, your children are probably putting pressure on you to let them have Facebook accounts. Kids are becoming social media-savvy at a very young age, and may feel pressured to follow suit and get online too. The fact is, there is an age limit on Facebook that allows only children of 13 years and above to create an account. While it’s easy to bypass this rule, there’s a reason it’s in place. Young kids are vulnerable to all sorts of dangers including bullying and can have their personal information left open to the public.
You could argue with them over the fact that there’s no pressing need for them to socialise online, when they can have a sound social life in the real world. But your children may not want to be left behind when all their friends are hobnobbing on the social media platform. It’s a good idea to talk to them about the pros and cons of Facebook and social media in general. Older children can be left to make their own choice, but if they’re very young, you must be the decision-maker and put your foot down even if there’s a tantrum coming!
What are the Potential Risks for Kids on Facebook?
Children, too young to handle social media and everything that comes with it, can suffer tremendous distraction in studies. All those updates from friends, chats and photo-sharing can be addictive. Facebook also has numerous interesting games and they’re difficult to stay away from. If you’re not careful, your children’s health could suffer with the lack of outdoor activity and not being around people enough in the real world. There are even more serious risks to contend with. Your children could unknowingly befriend someone with bad intentions and end up sharing personal details like school timings and your home address. This could lead to cyber stalking or stalking in person. A lot can happen with such private information! So, if your brood’s been pestering you to let them sign up with the site, keep the Facebook age limit in mind and carefully decide if they’re old enough to enter the world of social media.
As a mom, you need to set ground rules and the age restriction for Facebook is just one of them. Make use of the different privacy settings on the site to keep out unknown people and protect your children’s privacy. Monitor their page and make sure you have their login details too. Don’t allow them to accept friend requests from people they don’t know in real life. These small steps, while not fool-proof, can protect your children against the dark side of socialising on the internet. Remember, young kids don’t need to be on Facebook. They should have as much of a life as possible in the real world.