COM0011 Blog Post #1– Should Children Under Age Thirteen Socialize Online?

canstockphoto12096753 (2)As a child of the 80’s I had the opportunity to see the world change drastically. I’ve gone from playing basic maze games on the “family PC” located in my father’s office to owning dozens of electronic devices that allow my family to connect with people all over the world. This new virtual world of Social Media has transformed every aspect of our lives – some might even say that Social Networking has become the livelihood of our young generation.

There is an estimated 20 million minors who actively use Facebook in the U.S. and although Facebook has implemented a minimum age requirement they are finding themselves having to tackle a serious problem with children “illegally” infiltrating their networks. It has been reported that 7.5 million of these young users in are under the minimum age requirement of thirteen with 66% of them being under the age of ten.

We are living in a digital era and our children are seeking to connect as well.  I’m definitely not saying that that we should allow preschoolers to interact with adults on Facebook – but what I’m saying is that there are safe and reliable alternatives out there. An article by identified  and as safe alternatives for children kindergarten age through early school age and and for elementary and middle school age children. With games carefully designed by age group many websites have made it their mission to create safe and cooperative learning environments for children.

My daughter, age nine, signed up for a Club Penguin account about two years ago after her father and I took the time to review the site. Before she was authorized to begin networking we received an email from Club Penguin requesting that we reviewed and agree to the terms and conditions and also guided us to the site privacy settings where we opted for “safe chat”. These sites are equipped with the necessary safeguards to ensure that we can work together to assist them through their childhood quests.  As we all know Children learn through exploring and what better way to do that then surrounded by your peers and guided by us. When you think about it seems almost cruel to deny them that opportunity.

Born in Togo, West Africa, I came to Canada at the age of four and my parents were often reminded of the necessity for me to adapt to my new environment and learn to interact with those in it. We need to understand that the world is evolving at a spectacular rate and it is our responsibility as parent to take the necessary steps to assist our children in what has now become an essential developmental step for them. Taking the time to do research and educate ourselves will prevent our children from becoming prey. Change is inevitable and is neither bad nor good –It is our approach to change that makes a world of difference.

4 thoughts on “COM0011 Blog Post #1– Should Children Under Age Thirteen Socialize Online?

  1. Charlotte,

    I love your approach and your views about educating our children. It is so important to teach them how to think and analyze, I could not agree more with your reaction to change. You are absolutely right by saying that change is inevitable and it is how we react / our approach to it that makes the difference. Before I moved to Ottawa, I was a teacher in Montreal and let me tell you, not too many parents took the necessary steps to be part of their child development. It is necessary to educate our chilren instead of just forbidding. Thank you for posting (it restored some of my faith as an ex-teacher 🙂

  2. I am impressed with the selection of secure sites you have listed which are available to today’s youth. There were only limited options available when raising my 3 sons, the youngest of whom is now 20. We were a technology advanced household among their peers so often neighbourhood children came to use our computers for both schoolwork and entertainment. I never had the choice to just leave them on their own as there was no real-time safety tools. There was the ability to review logs but what use is finding out after the damage is done. They all understood that it was an exchange of service. I joined them in all of their computer research and they helped me with household chores. Yes, even the neighbour’s kids loaded my dishwasher or walked the dogs.

    • I remember those days! 🙂 My friends would come over and we would do homework together and on the weekends we would all gather around the computer while we took turns playing games. I remember my friends helping out with chores and me doing the same in return. Although I believe that learning about Social Media at a young age will benefit today’s youth in tomorrow’s job market; I miss that type interaction and sense of community we once had.

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