What is the appropriate age for using social networking sites? Are there practical ways of verifying the users age? These are the two questioned that pop into a concerned parents head with the rapidly growing trend of socializing on the internet.
The policies at social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace recommend that children that are 13 and older need to get parental permission, and younger than 13 are simply forbidden. How closely is that rule being followed? Surveys say that about 20,000 underage users are removed from Facebook daily. All these kids have to do is lie about their age and they can get an account. There are children under 13 who have accounts on Youtube, Facebook or Myspace. There isn’t much evidence that proves this to be harmful, and most underage kids seem to be using these sites in moderation and positively. As parents, only you can decide if you are willing to taking the risk of exposing your child to the vast world of internet socializing.
If we don’t allow kids on Facebook or MySpace, will family and relatives be attracted to use sites like Club Penguin or Togetherville which were designed for children up to the age of 10?
What do you do when you find out that your child has a user profile on a social networking site without your permission? Do you forbid them to use it again or is it wiser to let them use it on a condition that you will have their password so you can keep an eye on their online activity?
Some issues can not be taken lightly, and the protection of your child is one of those. Their safety is something we have to deal with everyday when they leave our homes. Child molesters are everywhere, so how can you be sure they are not sitting online and trying to be a part of your Childs social circle? Children can be manipulated and scammed easily. Their innocent curiosity can lead them into dangerous situations. Keeping track of their activities online is an added responsibility for the parents of these times. Parental involvement seems to be the best solution until these social networking sites develop more practical ways for verifying the identity and age of their users.
==== About the author ====
Nuur Hasan is professional website developer and a social networking enthusiast. When is not busy with work, he likes to browse Microsoft Office 365.