Marija Kovačević

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How young is too young for social networking?

Kids nowdays have facebook accounts as soon as they start reading. I had to make a special group of my fb friends who are under age (mostly family friends' kids), so I can block certain content from them.
But today, a 10 year old girl posted some photos of her friends. The girls wore little clothes, one only a shirt, and the picture was titled: Be stupid!, as the famous jeans company campaign. I found the pictures disturbing... and got me thinking how easy it is for the creeps on the internet!
So, I'm asking you:
Should there be/is there a way to control the kids online, now when there are so many "security" features on facebook? It's easy to hide a picture/a post only from certain people (like your parents)
Is it really important for a 10 yo to have a facebook/myspace/google+ account?

  • Aug 10 2011: I am 14. Unlike many others, I waited until I was 13 for a fb account (their guidance). If it is a child friendly site, with parental guidance/monitoring on the PC, I would say go ahead (childs sites such as club penguin etc.). So with guidance and proper moderation- any age.
    Social networking sites used in the right way are great, however they can also be potentially very dangerous. Anonymous sites like formspring are so dangerous. One of my friends was in tears because anonymous comments left on her account. It really damages people and is very sad.
    A problem with this though, is that fb is in a very powerful situation and has dominance, therefore kids aspire to be on it. Kids want to be grown up so don't want to be on child sites.
    I have a fundamental issue with the fact many kids lie to get on it- and so they don't even have the protection of under 18s because they put that they are 30.
    Overall, if properly monitored and set up with Friends only all the way down settings- not much of an issue. There is a whole culture now of kids who have forgotton the joys of books, and so for many kids it is really important for entertainment and not being the odd one out. I just feel that it is a shame in the current situation where because of lying about age etc. they are not protected and kids are using it to try and get the most compliments whilst back-stabbing each other. The services (mainly fb) should be more savvy and start deleting profiles clearly belonging to 10-year-olds.
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    Aug 17 2011: There's an old joke, that says: What is technology? Technology is essentially anything that is created after you are born.

    The speed at which a young person assimilates to technological changes as taken-for-granted features of their reality far outstrips any of the previous generation. For our kids, whether or not we "allow" them to create a personal profile at home has little bearing, if at school they are able to gain access. I say that setting an age limit due to the supposed "dangers" of social networking is a little ludicrous. Let them do it as soon as they have a desire to, and they will find the boundaries themselves. Who are we to say that our current set of standards and morals are temporally universal? If anything, we are outdated, already- because internet social networking is 'technology" for us. For a child of ten, using facebook to talk to their friends is the most natural thing in the world. Let them inherit the world, and negotiate the boundaries. We are privileged just to watch...
  • Aug 10 2011: It's almost impossible to know when they're "ready". We allowed our daughter to participate at age 11 with very strict rules, absolutely zero privacy from parental supervision and lots of discussion. It's worked fairly well and she's vigilant about monitoring her privacy settings and blocking her personal information from prying eyes. We've had to insist that a few photos be removed from her profile but overall she thinks before she posts and we've had a few discussions about the pointless-ness of a lot of what's out there. Sadly, our approach did nothing to protect her (she's now in high school) from the poor behavior of other kids and inappropriate advances from older (college age) men who are somehow connected to her circle of friends and hopefully don't realize the width of the age gap. That's my biggest concern - the bravado that social networking enables seems to encourage adolescent boys to "act out" more aggressively because they can hide behind the relative anonymity of the computer.

    And they very quickly learn how to limit parental access - which is the biggest risk of starting them too late. Once they hit their teens, you may be too late to engage in a full dialogue with them about what's going on and establish a pattern of open communication that sets the stage for more involvement as they grow up. Having said that, my son has been begging for an online "identity" for years, is much more computer savvy than his sister was at the same age and because of that we'll probably hold him off longer simply to be sure we have all the conversations our experience has taught us are needed BEFORE he has access.
  • Aug 10 2011: FB should be family oriented, not a single generation oriented

    Children’s right over internet is not protected at all. Internet or FB is very helpful for kids for their development and creativity. This issue has to be resolved.

    Further, similar cases are quite common in other part of the media, like TV songs, movies, and so forth.
  • Aug 9 2011: It's a very important question you have asked here.
    My opinion is that it varies from family to family. There's no age that you can simply say "okay you are 15" now so you can or must use facebook. Simply because different children mature at different rates and every family's culture is different. Appologies for major generalising here but in general, the West is more open and if a child does not have facebook by say 12 they may be called a misfit in society whereas in the East having facebook by the age of 10 would possibly earn you the title of a spoilt child to whom adults may say "This child is becoming overly modernized".

    In general I feel it is vital that all parents teach their children about internet safety as otherwise facebook is not safe for any age. But I think at the same time in our times, real-world experience is vital to truely teach a child about anything. To achieve this I believe all parents should initially start by sharing an account with their children just to teach them how the internet works and how to take care of themselves and how not to befriend everyone. Offcourse the parents should not "stalk" them and read every message that a child sends/recieves as otherwise when the parent leaves the child to facebook on their own they will simply go wild due to the freedom they finally feel they have. But they should just be around for some time just to build trust between a parent and child.

    For parents that don't understand facebook, I believe the childrens schools have a major responsibility in teaching them the details. School should not just be a place for a child to learn but a parent as well.

    The idea of introducing children to facebook by initially joining them in private social networks like in schools seems like a terrible idea to me as a school's social network will be far different to any facebook and it would lead to shy children in the future.

    I'm still a teen though so my view is likely to differ greatly from most people here.
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      Aug 9 2011: Thank you for a "teenager perspective"! I think you can relate to the subject the most. And I definitely agree on schools taking greater responsability. Someone should teach the parents what to teach the kids, and how to handle the new technologies.
      But first, someone should teach the teachers :D
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    Aug 13 2011: This is a great question! I will ask another; "how old it too old for social networking?" I am well over 40 and many of my older friends do not or will not use Facebook or Twitter because they believe it is juvenile. A good number will use only LinkedIn because they see business value in it but many (particularly the ones over the age of 50) are completely off of the grid.

    Between your question and mine there could probably be established a useful age range.
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      Aug 13 2011: Well, I don't think there is a "too old", depending what you use it for. For example, my mom, who is 50, got in contact with all her classmates, and many friends who moved to other countries because of the war in the 90's. Also, I think it's easy for "older" people who are trying to find romance. At least where I live, if you're not married over 40, you're signed off :(
      On the other hand, I don't see my grandma using it... So, I would say, it depends on your friends- if they're too old to use a computer, there's just no point :D
  • Aug 10 2011: Unfortunately, this goes back to the parents. It isn't hard to say "I have all your passwords, you only use the computer in public areas of the home", and to explain to them clearly what is acceptable and unaccpetable despite what their friends might be doing. It's a crazy new concept I call "Parenting".

    So I see no reason for 10 y/o's to be barred from social networks. My 9 y/o has a FB account. I have his passwords, all his messages are directed to my email, and he only uses it when I am around. He gets a kick out of it, and so do his friends (who frequently message to ask if he is allowed to come out and play, which I must say works nicer than in my day when we used to just show up at the door).
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      Aug 11 2011: Hey Jason I totally respect your view and the way you handle it ( since I dont have a kid I can say that probably I would have done the same things ) I have just one critical objection. Maybe it is because of my nostalgia , I would prefer neighbor kids knock my door to ask my kid out rather than page him or e-mail him.
      • Aug 19 2011: "I would prefer neighbor kids knock my door to ask my kid out"
        That is probably still true in small communities, in cities however its a lot harder, when I was in primary school my best friend lived one hour away by bus, I couldn't exactly just show up at his door.

        I totally agree with jason on this one, the kids Marija mentions were taking semi nude pictures of themselves and publishing them openly, I think its a much greater issue the fact that they are doing that than the possibility of a creep downloading them.
        Why? because the first gives place to the second for starters.

        If the kids are well taught they would be able to enjoy FB and similar mediums without feeding the creeps. A healthy father-child mother-child relationship is more often than not the best defense against inappropriate content and untrustworthy strangers.

        I often hear the argument "with todays media its almost impossible to properly educate our children!"
        This often leaves me the taste of "with todays media its almost impossible to keep our children in a bubble!" which is not the same as educating.

        The day I have a child the first thing I'll teach him is to think for himself, then come consult me, and then do some more thinking.
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      Aug 11 2011: I must agree with Erol, I loved when someone of my friends would just show up at my door, and ask my mom if I am allowed to go out to play :) Looks like now even kids are on schedule!
      • Aug 11 2011: I was being a bit facetious, I wouldn't really mind if they just showed up. One thing though, my friends all lived very close to me growing up, but I'm guessing school boundaries expanded between then and now, so sometimes the distances to friends are just too much for them to just walk over. So I do think it helps them connect and manage the friendship at greater distance.
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        Aug 18 2011: At the risk of sounding like a fuddy-duddy...I prefer when kids notify us ahead of time, as often we ARE on schedule.... I feel it's a bit of an unfair situation when my son's friends show up, often just as we are about to do something and ask if he can play. I could say, "no, we're going grocery shopping" whatever, but then I'm the Bad Parent...and unfortunately, where we live borders on properties that are occupied by the not so socially acceptable, let's say and I wouldn't feel safe leaving them to their own devices.
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    Aug 8 2011: I think I'm more worried about the photos than anything else.
    Age-inappropriateness aside, these pictures will be around for a very long time possibly... and they will come back to haunt these girls at the very least, if not provide fodder for pedophiles and other deviants.
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      Aug 8 2011: What I was also thinking about is- What would make a girl that young take photos like that. But that is a whole new subject of the media influence and body image.
      But yes, nothing can't be deleted from facebook. the pictures are saved forever, and if you have the URL, you can access it even if the owner deleted it!
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    Aug 8 2011: In my opinion it is not necessary for children to use social networks. Of course it is important that we do not keep them from using the internet in general as a useful tool in the online age - thinking about the basic function of social networks however I think that this is not an essential part of the online life.
    I have a 12 year old brother who uses facebook + two other German equivalents and he uses them basically to play application games and message school mates. I am only 10 years older but I had access to the net came much later and I am pretty glad about it. I was playing too - outside with 'tangible' friends, using much more imagination, playing LEGO etc etc. Of course one must not be too conservative about the internet but social networks for me have the highest value in connecting people (especially over long distances). A 10,11,12 year old just does not have that many international contacts that would justify the urgent need for using facebook, myspace and so on.

    The overall effect on our whole society is just bad as it is right now because 'social' networks make lots of things pretty 'unsocial'. We all know that everyone is rather talking to his/her smartphone/computer nowadays (or at least it seems like this). And especially children are learning lots of important values when they are young, values of friendship, trust, communication and conflicts for instance - and these values come very short online...
  • Aug 17 2011: You have to adopt a virtual mindset and teach that to kids. Going on facebook is just like going to the mall or a public park. if you wouldn't display your pictures there, then the same should hold true of the internet. Just because you access the internet from your home doesn't mean its home. So apply the same rules. If yo insist that your children appear in public clean and dressed moderately then pictures they upload should show them in that fashion. If you don't allow them to curse, then they shouldn't online. If they aren't supposed to talk to strangers then they shouldn't online.

    As for children's claims of privacy. When you are online there is no privacy. They only thing they are saying is that they want to hide what they are doing from you. You can walk into there rooms and see their stuff, but you probably don't because you grant them that right. But very few parents let their children lock their room with a key only the child and his/her friends have. same is true of the internet. Have them write the password down and put it in an envelope and seal it. Stick it somewhere accessible and safe. Explain to the child, if I need to, I am going to open that envelope and see what you are doing. If you change the password than I am going to assume you are doing something bad and take action. If you don't give me a reason to I am not going to look. That is how your home probably works. So its how the internet should work.

    Technology will always be changing. But morality and ethics and how families work doesn't really change. So you have to adapt to the new playing ground, not by abdicating but by enveloping the new playing field in your rules.
    • Aug 20 2011: Could not have said it any better. The basics never change, don't be afraid of being labelled old school. If done respectfully even your kids will thank you someday for teaching them the right thing.
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    Aug 17 2011: Like many other responses I've read, I think the keys to teaching children safe social networking practices are, as with anything, moderation and being taught how to use the tools safely and responsibly, so I think it all comes down to parenting. All the time I see t.v. commercials for kid's toys that end with the voice-over saying "ask your parents' permission to go online." It seems like children are being pushed at increasingly young ages toward using the internet, and I think it's a wonderful and necessary resource, even for children. It's just that Facebook doesn't urge them to talk to their parents about it.

    I've just been struck with a thought- maybe a way to teach children about social networking is to set up a "family" Facebook/Twitter/Google+ page. The way I see it, parents with small children could create a page that is for the entire family, not just a single person. Family pics could then be uploaded, family news and goings-on could be shared via tweets/status updates, and I imagine this as a kind of end-of-day family bonding experience, so parents and children could be able to talk about why they want to include topics or leave topics out of updates. Hopefully through these discussions children would learn about acceptable social networking etiquette and security, and then eventually the kids can responsibly handle social networking accounts of their own.

    I just wrote that as it came to me, so I'm sure there are flaws, but I think it'd be a pretty cool little experiment to try with a young family. What changes would you guys make to it, or potential troubles can you foresee?
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    Aug 13 2011: I don't believe it's a matter of age, rather than a matter of responsibility. I know many people of my age who still don't have the nack of social networking and randomly share any aspect of their lives. However, I don't believe it's necessary for young teenagers to use social networks, because school is supposed to teach them how to become a healthy, social, human being. As Salim Solaiman said, prohibiting the use of social networking websites for kids, isn't the best idea either.

    I'd say, let them use Facebook, Twitter or any form of social media, as long as there is someone responsible around to make them familiar with the proper use of those websites (e.g. Do not share any personal information, do not use the website to bully anyone,...).
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    Aug 13 2011: It's a good topic and lot of interesting discussion below.
    Wondering if kids have the access to internet without any age bar , why social networking should have?
    Barring might make them more curious (kids are so) and that will push them to get into it if not from home from soemwhere else.
    Is it not better to explain them good and bad sides and keep it open. Moreover actual physical age and mental age varies from kid to kid.
    Well all the time we had this dilemma with new technology (when 1st Cinema / TV came guess same question came as well)...... similar question yet unresolved in many cultures and countries about sex education.
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    Aug 12 2011: I got my first email account at 13 and that just lead to my friends and I consuming all our time on the computer. I don't think it's necessary for kids to have Facebook or any of the other social networks. I do think parents should limit their time if they do have one. It's wrong to let them put up whatever pictures they want. I know as a teen girl if I had, had a FB account at a young age I would have put up lots of inappropriate photos. Just because you aren't mature enough to realize what message you are portraying to people. Basically I think it's wrong for parents to let their 14 and under children have social networking. I even make mistakes on there and I'm 19. Old enough to at least think about things first. OK that's my speel.
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      Aug 14 2011: Its a fact that social networking has its own cons as well as pros for kids. But one thing that we are forgetting is that, this generation kids are quite curious. For instance i've seen my sis always ask me whether i'm chatting on facebook or doing something else. She's just a 2nd grader. We can all see the advent of the internet or social network age into our very own lives and I believe that prevention is not always the better option. We should make them understand about socialising from the day they ask us about it. Kids are nascent minds and they discuss about all stuff that they are prevented from doing among themselves. Therefore educating them is a better option!!!
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        Aug 15 2011: Oh yes!! I totally agree with you! Educating them can help them understand the implications of their actions.
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    Aug 12 2011: If they are well-raised teenagers it shouldn't be such a big issue using social networks 'cause the children themselves can tell what's good and what's bad for them. Unfortunately most parents would monitor but information can easily be hidden and after all there's no need to control everything if you're sure you had set the right example - all that's left is hope that the youngsters will follow it!
    Don't get me wrong but from bitter experience I know that a teen will do what they want no matter if parents allow it or not. What we can really do is educate! I'm a teacher of teens and I should know. Otherwise I think 13 is the right age. :)
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    Aug 11 2011: In order to answer your question, you should consider the need of sharing "news" and "updates" when it comes to youngsters.
    Some feel that their Facebook Friends will appreciate a photo, a status, a joke, a video or so.
    Others think that they can grab attention. Some use it for making fun of others.
    Some enjoy sharing their "love" and other relationships. Everything is linked.
    Your main question ("How young is too young for social networking?") reminds me of a quote written by the Lebanese-Australian author called Jonar Nader that once said "How long does it take for your new friend to become your old friend?"
    Anyhow, I think that parents should have "sneak-peaks" from time to time and must check their children's social accounts such as Facebook; Myspace; Twitter; Youtube; Google+ and so on.
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    Aug 10 2011: the world has moved onto the digital age and its hardly a matter of time that a new born would be a techno freak....
    Rather than controlling the children activities it would be more fruitful if we can help them understand what they are actually doing online. It is not easy to make children understand but its worth a better option....
  • Aug 8 2011: I'm going to go with ... 55.
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      Aug 8 2011: :) or maybe at 65, after retirement, when you have the most time :P
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    Aug 20 2011: To block this certain material may sound great, but, unfortunately, it's impossible. Why? The reason is that, the more you want to block the content, the more those " under age " people want to know what is it...
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    lex i

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    Aug 20 2011: teach your children, not control.
    talk to them like adults and they will act wisely.
    ...and, forget about control, - it doesn't work in this world.
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    Aug 18 2011: It's not about age as much as it's about teaching our kids what to look out for, what to red flag and discuss with us. It's about learning how to discern, what and who to trust and what to share publicly. We need to teach them that FB is searchable and their future could be influenced by what they share and how. If we teach them young enough, they'll have the best skills to deal with people within and outside social media.

    It's not important for them to have an account but if they're going to, I'd much rather know about it and teach them the skills to deal with it than keep it a secret. If they hide it, then they won't come to us unless it's almost too late.

    Important question!
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    Aug 18 2011: Aging is not the problem, I think, the problem is how to control the kids or teenage to utilize the internet. Let us down to the foundmentals and agree that they all could access to the net, however, the parents' duty is to lead them to the heathy way.
    I also want to go to facebook, but the internet forbids me. In China, I had a MYSPACE account, now it is banned too. I konw they both are very famous, and we can communicte with others to express our feeling and we can upload our photos. Anyway, you should control youself, make sure what should be uploaded and others is not in the right time.
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    Aug 18 2011: It is not really important for 10 year to have a social network. now , world is so much selfish to hide its own truth in his/her mind. One such a below adult people hide his/her truth with its own then there have so many problem and crime also increasing rapidly. Below the adult period no one can know what is right or wrong. OK, many elder are telling "get grow up", its not mean all thing doing in social network, you have to grow up your thinking. Now days small skirt are the fashion but it is not in public. If some child having good advice in growing age then they should not be beyond from goodness.
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    Aug 18 2011: Some governments seem to think their populations are not able to handle social networking responsibly, so they regulate what 'the kids' are allowed to post and see. (Mainland China comes to mind, but there are many other governments who take care to 'protect' their citizens from 'undesirable influences'.) Perhaps all chronological ages are not ready for social networking and only 'politically mature' persons should have the right to network without supervision.... An excellent example of how to both channel and monitor the actions of the immature is available in George Orwell's '1984'. The citizens of Oceania lead a prim and proper life and follow the dictates of their betters -- even to the point of clearing their minds of inappropriate content (with the assistance of The Ministry of Truth). Of course there are always social deviants in any society, but good parental supervision and re-education can keep these folks from infecting their peers with socially inappropriate thinking and deviant behaviors.....
  • Aug 18 2011: 12 years old is too young, 13 is the right age.

    Of course there is no definite answer to this, but 13 seems like the right age in my opinion.

    It's a semi-monumental age. They have become teenagers and they should be able to acquire the responsibilities and privileges that come with it. By this age, they should be mentally competent enough to responsibly access and use social networking media.
  • Aug 17 2011: I am 15 and i am on FB,Modern media practises have evolved significantly from their traditional forms, with the key concepts of this ‘new media’ being participation and interactivity (O’Reilly, 2005, p. 1) (Anderson, 2007). Society exists in a digital age, where everything in our lives is spread out across as much media as possible and this media is shaped by everyone(including the children).More than 150million youngs use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, share photographs and videos and post regular updates of their movements and "thoughts".
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    Aug 14 2011: Social networking is fundamentally incompatible with a child's healthy upbringing. There's no question about that. There's a reason that we raise children in the company of other children. On the internet, they are not in the company of other children, but fully grown men & women that don't always care what they expose children to! YOUR CHILDREN!

    Whatever the age of reason is for your particular kid should determine when he/she gets internet freedom. I'll spare you the details of what can happen beforehand. With one exception. Years ago I found some gloves on the internet that I really wanted. I took one of my mother's checks and attempted to purchase the gloves. I failed, but I'm sure you can see how this could have gone terribly wrong. I also routinely attempted to claim "free cash & prizes" I saw advertised on pretty much every page on the internet. Yeah...

    Back to the point: Your kids don't need a facebook! They can play at disney.com all they want.
  • Aug 13 2011: Great issue. Well, I think that internet help all of us to learn everything we want to. However, most of kids don't know how to use it to evolute their minds. They are in social network for 10 hours a day and they study for 2 hours a day. They forget that the better way to talk is talking personaly. The worst news is that this problem is becoming worse each day. I know that there is a way to solve it, but it depends on how the kids are educated. It's not so easy.
    I agree with Salim Solaiman in everything.
  • Aug 13 2011: My personal opinion is that Facebook and other online sources should not be enabled by young children at all. I personally think that it should be around the time they are getting ready for college. There is a reason for this. Im not some anti-technology amish person who believes that all cell phones are bad but there have been multiple studies that show that online personalities change how children grow up and perceive the world. They start getting into online bullying. They stop working so hard for normal social interactions. They believe that your online status of followers is more important then your physical relationships. Also most children are easily impressionable to believe whatever someone tells them. This can result in online exploitation on a physical and sexual level. Just like your parents controlled as best they could who and when you could hang out we as parents need to do the same. I get so frustrated when people freak out about parents trying to control their kids online use when the truth is they should be! I remember being completely retarted as a kid and if my parents didn't teach me right from wrong i would have learned it through tv and i think that online social personalities are of the same moral fiber. As an adult i know what behavior on the television is real and what is artificial. I can tell the difference from a daytime tv show and a movie or a "reality" show. Children must learn from real physical interaction how to behave in different situations, not by online commenting.
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      Aug 13 2011: What you said about online personalities is very interesting. Recently I've seen a facebook status saying: Online friends are always there for you, they wish you a happy birthday, they like your status... (and so on).... copy this on your wall if you love your online friends!- I found it stupid, but I guess, for some kids who have problems making friends in real world, virtual reality is much more appealing :(
  • Aug 13 2011: It's a very difficult question to answer.

    In my opinion, social networks are a very new way to communicate with each other and sharing personal (and less personal) content.

    Forbid the access from a kid to such tools is not helping him but trying to keep him in your comfort zone.
    Parents just need to adapt by documenting themselves, mastering these new tools and then educate their children in order to warn them about the dangers and guide them in their usage of these websites. They also need to insist on safety by installing a adapted parental control solution.

    Think about how you teach a child how to ride a bike, to cross the street, to walk back home after school. These fundamental experiences are building, modeling the child and help him getting autonomy but they are as much dangerous as browsing and using a social network.

    I really don't think the age is the problem. 12 year old kids are more mature than 16 ones. Parents just need to evaluate the personality and the maturity of their children. Some kids can go to death metal concerts some other are too fragile. If the kid is ready , parent's should encourage discovery of such tools and the possibilities they offer.

    The last point on which I would like to insist is: "Make a selection on the social networks you allow your kid to use".

    Before granting him access to a new social network, check the privacy settings, the possibility of deleting an account and personal informations. If not, just don't let your child use something you wouldn't use. Explain yourself, because I think a child has the right to know why he can't do something, but then a parental decision should must not be discussed.

    Other thing to check, the usage of the social network. Because they are tools, by definition, users make different usage of social networks. Facebook has became a social game/picture sharing/meeting planning website and twitter is becoming a worldwide chat room. They are used in a way they were not built for.
  • Aug 12 2011: When I was little, (which was before the age of social networking) kids got into things that were "too mature" for them. Someone would bring a stolen porn magazine and the whole group would look at it. Or someone would steal cigarettes and some would smoke them. Or someone would convince someone to show them their bits and pieces.

    And so on. The big difference is that once its on the internet, the childish game of "look at this" is there forever for them to be judged by, and of course that adults with bad intentions can also have access to the pictures while there were rarely adults in the bushes with the kids playing "doctor."

    I dont think that there is any real way to control kids being kids on the internet, or in the world, aside from your physical presence with them while they are on the internet and in the physical world. I think the bottom line is, that if you really want your children to be safe from harm you have to physically watch them while they are doing what they do. Its difficult when parents have to work, or want to do "their own thing" rather than physically engage with the child in the virtual or physical world, but honestly, thats your best bet for keeping them safe.

    You can let your child have a facebook page, but not let them have unlimited access to it. (ie, make it something you supervise them doing for a half hour or one hour a day, and which you make inoperable for them when you are not around, perhaps by taking the router or lap top with you when you are away.)

    You cant really parent well in absentia, is the bottom line. Its just an inconvenient truth.
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      Aug 13 2011: Oh, yes, I remember one older girl drawing suggestive caricatures and showing them to younger kids. We would giggle and try to redraw some of the stuff, but the thing is, it stayed on that paper, and never went to digital world to be kept forever.
  • Aug 12 2011: No such thing as too young. Age is just a number and it boils down to the individual.
  • Aug 10 2011: I wont let my children use or even allow them to search these sites until they are old enough to be responsible for their decisions. Until that time I am responsible for the decisions they make, good or bad.
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    Aug 10 2011: I am not concerned about photos but mostly fear about interaction. Security and privacy settings should be controlled by parents until 18. I know I sound old-fashioned but it is still a fact. By the way boys are sometimes even easier targets than girls for pedophiles.
    • Aug 10 2011: Well said Erol - it's not giving our children access to the network but giving the network access to our children that's scary. I'm with you - I worry more about my son than my daughter. He's more likely to take initiative and less likely to share what's going on than she was. Different personalities require different approaches.
  • Aug 9 2011: My personal view is that the service providers should filter or regulate what get posted online.
    All obscene photo should be private properties & FB or other servers should have this security feature as their social responsibility to prevent such postings to be viewed in public or better still, they should install a security feature to detect all obscene / unwholesome postings & prevent them from being posted online, to stop unhealthy stuffs spreading around in the world & contaminating the young minds of those youngsters. It should be within the provider's control and regulation. Cannot something be done about it? Too much unwholesome freedom is bad for society. :)
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      Aug 9 2011: I'm not sure they would be willing to employ more people just to monitor the situation... It would cost a lot of money!
  • Aug 8 2011: Depends massively on context. Are we talking about an account that a parent has access to, and some level of control over? Something to allow the easy modern equivalent of penpals and to provide accessibility to some age-appropriate games? Or are we talking about a full-blown facebook account set on their own, without a parent having access to their password, or following what's going on on it? Because these are very different questions. I think there is a lot of value in using social networking for something like international pen pals and exposure to different cultures and ideas. I also think using it as a convenient gaming platform is useful. But getting a fully independent social network account at a young age is probably a terrible idea. Even adults are guilty of being narcissistic and engaging in attention seeking behavior by its use. I think in children it would be very commonplace, and dramatically more problematic if it becomes prevalent because it can result in social exclusion in real life if networks are largely school peers and classmates. Very tough questions here, interested to see what people think.
  • Aug 8 2011: I'm gonna steer away from the pedophilia issue, because I actually know very little about pedophilia, and therefore can't make any judgement.

    BUT, I definitely don't think anyone under thirteen should be on a social networking site... That being said, I don't think anyone should be allowed social networking... Speaking over the internet brings out the worst in all of us.
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    Aug 7 2011: Personally, I would give my boys a phone (not internet capable) before I let them have a facebook account. Not sure about an age. I'll know when they're ready.

    The reality is that parents should be teaching their kids internet safety. It will mean that, for some parents, they will have to get wise about the internet themselves.

    Nothing is 100% safe in terms of internet, so the best you can do is teach kids how to stay safe online. This can involve:

    -Strong Password habits (no obvious passwords, no sharing it with ANYONE, regular changes)
    -Withholding personal information (use a 'screen-name', not giving out e-mail, contact details, etc)
    -They don't have to 'friend' everyone that requests it. In fact, they should only 'friend' their friends.
    -What to do if they see something on screen that makes them feel uncomfortable (turn off screen/close laptop lid, call mum and dad, etc).

    Closed networks are out there, where schools can provide their own social networks for the students and teachers in the school only. A social LEARNING network.
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      Aug 7 2011: "The reality is that parents should be teaching their kids internet safety. It will mean that, for some parents, they will have to get wise about the internet themselves."
      So true! I guess the problem is- some parents can't follow because they don't know what the possibilities are, and it's difficult to search for something if you don't know it's out there.