Should social media sites be targeted at young children?
The lower age limit for holding a Facebook account is 13 years old but because there is little control over signing up some users are under age. Considering that the social media website was originally aimed at university students it is concerning that it is used by much younger teenagers.
For some years Facebook has been toying with the idea of a site for younger children. This week Facebook launched in the US Messenger Kids which is aimed at 6-11 year olds. I wonder how many teenagers have Facebook now anyway as it has become the social media platform for older generations – their parents and grandparents. Most teenagers use snapchat and Instagram to name just two alternative options. Messenger Kids does not allow advertisements and friend requests have to be verified by an adult. I am sure they have strict privacy controls which help allay the fears of some about online safety.
I have my reservations about these sites being targeted at quite young children. It encourages them to view the world through rose-tinted glasses. Everyone is having a fun time according to the images and real life is not like
that. Furthermore at a time when we should be balancing screen time with other activity it seems that we are creating another draw to spend more time online.
At school we do much to point out the pitfalls of using social media – this advice is in several formats from assemblies to PSHEE lessons and I am not sure we could do much more. Although I am a great believer in using digital technology I do think excessive use of social media is giving us all a warped view of how everyone else is living their life. There are reports that the younger generations are revolting against posting online and are giving up their accounts. This is good news and I am generally against the introduction of a new platform that allow younger and younger children to interact over the internet. It is hard enough for older children to avoid making hurtful public comments or posting inappropriate material. Our advice is always if you do not like what you are reading or seeing and you are finding it upsetting then delete your account.
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