The online world is another way for new generations to communicate research and socialize. It has become our way of life and for some people, it has become a habit, an addiction and an obsession.
However, for others, being online still is unknown to them and it is difficult to grasp the regulations and safety measures to keep themselves and their children safe.
In today’s society, social media is a large chunk of online use as according to Brandwatch there are 2.3 billion active social media users with Facebook being the most popular. These social media accounts are used to communicate with anyone across the world and to keep in touch with friends and family, however these accounts are sometimes abused and used in ways that put children at risk. Furthermore, gaming apps are also used to connect with friends or make new ones through common gaming, however sometimes through these Apps, children can be groomed, threatened and bullied. It is important to be aware of who your children are talking to and connecting with through the internet.
According to the NSPCC, over half of parents do not know whether their children are old enough to use certain social networks, as each one as a different age restriction. Some parents even think there are no age restrictions. These particular sites can be dangerous for young children as it can expose them to bullying or grooming, however they can provide a platform for advice and support. The NSPCC stated that among 13-18 year olds, 96% of them signed up to social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp and of those under the age of 13, 78% were using at least one of these despite being below the age requirement. Although there are age restrictions on such networks, it is easy for children to lie about their age, as identification is rarely required. As a result, not having these boundaries opens up the possibilities of bullying.
As stated by the eSafety commissioner, most social networks and apps require all users to be 13 years old to join. Except for WhatsApp having an age limit of 16 and Tinder and Skype exceed to 18 years of age.
When children turn 13, they usually have a broader understanding of the world around them and a better idea of what is appropriate to share online. By discussing the pro’s and con’s it allows both you and the child to understand the implications of social media and what are the suitable networks to join.