The Importance of Social Media Age Restrictions

Jan 27, 2015

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Most social media sites have age restrictions for opening an account. To open an account with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or many other social media sites, children need to be 13 years old. Some other social media accounts require you to be 17 years old. YouTube requires account holders to be 18 years old, but a 13 year old can sign up for an account at 13 years old with a parent’s permission.

Many kids are signing up for social media accounts even though age restrictions are in place. Social media websites aren’t required to verify that an account holder meets the age requirements. Most social media require you to input a birth date to sign up, but kids can come up with fake birthdays for that. On Facebook, 52% of children between the ages of 8 and 16 have admitted that they didn’t care about Facebook’s age restrictions. 

Why are age restrictions for social media so important? The first is because a child’s personal information is put at risk. Laws have been put in place that prevent websites from collecting personal information from children under the age of 13. When a child under the age of 13 signs up for a social media account, the laws can no longer protect them from having their personal information collected.

Another reason these age restrictions are important is because we all (children included) make dumb decisions, and the internet makes those dumb decisions permanent. Kids can harass or cyberbully other kids and not know the consequences of those actions. Anything they post on social media is forever; even if they delete it, there is still a record of it. While they may understand how to use social media, they may not understand how to use it wisely.

Parents can block an underage child’s access to social media by using an internet filter and restricting access to social media sites. Net Nanny can block all social media sites, or you can block specific sites, depending on what you want. To prevent access to social media on mobile devices, you can change the settings to restrict app installation (instructions on how to do that depend on the device).

If your child already has a social media account, there are things you can do to monitor your child’s use of social media. Net Nanny Social is a way to monitor your child’s social media accounts. Net Nanny Social can monitor your child’s pictures and videos and gives you access to your child’s friend-related activities.