If you have school-age kids, it’s likely you’ve thought about their digital futures and what role technology will play in their lives. Stepping outside of safely monitored websites designed for kids, the next big jump into the online world is Facebook, of course.
While the age requirement is 13, there’s no doubt that a huge population of underage kids is already well-versed in status updates, friending and posting to walls. In fact, a Consumer Reports study last year found that a whopping 7.5 million kids who are on Facebook are in fact underage. And while they’re lying to get on Facebook, parents are even helping their youngsters get in on the act, with another survey finding 50% of parents are OK with their kids aged 10-14 having Facebook accounts.
SodaHead, a purveyor of customer opinion, just recently asked its users the very same question and found that only 34% of respondents think that 13 is a good age. Forty eight percent think that “older than 13” is the way to go with 29% pegging 14-17 as a good age range and 19% feeling like 18 or older is the best age for Facebook. A small percentage of respondents actually thought 13 was too old, with 13% agreeing that ages 10-12 is appropriate and a small 5% liking the 7-9 age range for jumping in.
In some ways, it seems like the age requirement does very little to keep kids away from the social network. Little more than plugging in a birthdate is required to join and it's impossible for Facebook to monitor the honesty behind those who are inputting the year in which they're born. And that inability to truly enforce the age requirement is evident. A previous SodaHead poll found these percentages of kids at various ages already online, friending and ‘liking’ on Facebook:
- 19% of 10-year-olds
- 32% of 11-year-olds
- 55% of 12-year-olds
- 69% of 13-year-olds
- 78% of 14-year-olds
With everything from cyber-bullying to Facebook depression, I’m thinking I’ll keep my kids shielded from Facebook for as long as possible. While keeping them away from this and whatever social network may become the next big thing in their futures, when they do finally make the plunge, it’s of the utmost importance to monitor their usage and keep those lines of communication open. Just like any new phase of your child’s life, hopefully you are leading by good example and providing that safety net every step of the way.
What do you think is an appropriate age?
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