My 11 year old son had battery issues with his iPhone and asked if I could look into it for him. After a hard reset, his phone was charging again. Lately, he had been complaining that a few apps were “glitching” (is this a verb?) so this was the perfect opportunity to perform some maintenance and update his phone to IOS 12 (released Sept 17th).
In the process, I had to reset his Apple ID Password and when I looked at his emails, something caught my attention; there was an email from Facebook with a confirmation number.
On Saturday, my son had used Safari to create his Facebook account.
And now what?
At first I was upset. I thought that he would have talked to us about it before taking such initiative.
Luckily for him, we had a full day to think about our strategy before meeting with him. That allowed some time to reflect on our parental responsibilities and do some research. In a way, this was our chance to open dialog further; about trust and use of social medias.
At this time we are not really worried about our son being bullied online. Our main concerns is his maturity and ability to deal with the overwhelming influences thrown at him, not to mention predators that might be on the hunt. If and when he creates a Social Media account, we’ll be there to coach him and answer any questions he might have. If he creates his accounts without us knowing, he might not reach out when it matters the most, and that can be scary.
What Facebook says
A quick search in facebook terms of Service shows that Facebook’s minimum age requirement is 13 years old.
“Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.”
What internet says
I went on and did my own research and managed to find many articles that would speak about that topic. Here’s two:
This CNN Article states:
“A 2011 Consumer Reports survey found 7.5 million people younger than 13 use the site”.
“But here’s the most important issue: There is absolutely no proof of any meaningful social or educational value of Facebook for children under 13. Indeed, there are very legitimate concerns about privacy as well as the impact on the social, emotional and cognitive development of children. What Facebook is proposing is similar to the strategies used by Big Tobacco in appealing to young people — try to hook kids early, build your brand, and you have a customer for life.”
The Huffington Post talk about 3 reasons why social media age restrictions matter.
- Children’s Personal Information is at risk.
- Children under 13 don’t have the hardware upstairs to make smart decisions online.
- Lying is just plain wrong.
What my son said:
Fast-forward to that evening, me and my wife sat down with him to discuss our findings. His first reaction was pretty simple. He was really minimizing his actions saying it was only for the purpose of getting skins to use in Minecraft, a game he really likes. He had seen videos from a “Youtuber” that would encourage people to like his page to get extra skins for the game.
He even went on saying he shared no personal information and that he did not contact anyone. For him, it was no big deal.
What we (his parents) said:
First we reminded him that trust is the most valuable thing he might have and that he should be careful and talk to us before taking such initiatives.
We then explained to him our concerns (see above) and that we did not agree with him having a Facebook account before the age of 13. We told him that when the time would come we would do this together so that he would have a good basic understanding of the do’s and don’ts and the potential risks. We also set a few rules, including charging his phone outside of his bedroom at night and never to share sensitive information like our address or the door code for example. We insisted that should he end up in an uncomfortable/weird/dangerous situation, we would always be there for him. Lastly we made clear that regardless of the App, he should only entertain a conversation with people he knows in real life.
Here is a few more articles I found that relates to Teenagers and the use of Social Medias:
I would really like to hear your positive stories about introducing kids to Social Medias. Would you have dealt with this situation differently?
HELP! My 11 year old son created a Facebook account! https://bit.ly/2Rly89C
My son, 11, created his own Facebook account. What do I do? bit.ly/2Rly89C