I won't let my 12-year-old have a Facebook account. My son has asked to have an account at least three times and I have said no because:
1) When you "accept a friend request" from someone with a logo as a profile picture because you "like" that logo, it does not mean that you know the person who is behind it.
2) When you "friend" someone who you think you know and trust, it does not mean that you know and trust who they are linked to and, depending on privacy settings, those acquaintances might be able to see your information, too.
3) In my opinion, social maturity takes practice and real life experiences to grow and learn from. You cannot learn relationship skills, communication skills or recognize the nuances of communication such as eye contact and body language through social media.
An article in WebMD Health News in March discussed benefits and risks of kids and social networking after a report entitled, "“The Impact of Social Media Use on Children, Adolescents and Families,” from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) was released. The article says social media can be a means of nurturing friendships and community engagement, but also notes cyberbullying, anxiety, and depression are a few of the negative consequences that can result.
According to a news release, the new AAP guidelines include recommendations for pediatricians to help families navigate the social media landscape, including:
- Advise parents to talk to children and adolescents about their online use and the specific issues that today’s online kids face, such as cyberbullying, sexting, and difficulty managing their time.
- Advise parents to work on their own “participation gap” in their homes by becoming better educated about the many technologies their children are using.
- Discuss with families the need for a family online-use plan, with an emphasis on citizenship and healthy behavior.
- Discuss with parents the importance of supervising online activities via active participation and communication, not just via monitoring software.
Do you think social media hinders or helps kids develop communication skills? I know that "everyone is doing it," but is that the right reason to let a child participate? What age is acceptable for kids to begin using social media? Should parents monitor their online activities? How?