It’s not about what they may see or say online. It’s not even about the cyberbullying that is so rampant. The fact is terms of service for all social media sites — including Instagram and Facebook — specify that users must be 13 years of age to have an account.
That’s not an arbitrary number; that’s the law. COPPA makes it illegal for websites to collect personal details about any child under the age of 13. That includes your tween. For children to be on those websites, they have to change their birthdate so the system believes them to be old enough for an account.
AKA, they lie.
And allowing your children to be on social media means you’re condoning that lie. It means you’re assisting them in skirting the law. Oh, but it’s such a little thing, isn’t it? Is it? The Internet is already overrun with untruths, misinformation, and alter egos designed to mislead. Do you really want your child’s first foray into that world to start with a lie?
I don’t. I want my children to grow up knowing that the Internet is real.
It’s an extension of who we are, and the digital footprint we leave is forever. I want them to grow up in a world where people are who they say they are. I want their internet to be filled with article commenters who treat one another with respect because they know there are real people behind the comments. I want their social media to be free from bullies who make up lies to hurt others.
And that starts with being honest from the very first click.