I use it, my kid can use it. Or?

Picture: Sarah Good, goSupermodel user

Picture: Sarah Good, goSupermodel user

We hear it often. Parents might know that there’s an age limit of 13 on Facebook but they still think it’s ok for kids below that age to use it.

Parents are calm with kids using services that they are familiar with themselves. What they don’t realize is that children rarely use those services the same way as grown-ups.

When adults use Facebook or Skype, they know all their contacts. They always know who they are talking to and use the service for keeping in touch with friends, family and acquaintances. They have met or at least talked to all their contacts.

According to a study made by Pew Internet Research, only nine percent of grown-ups search for new friends on social media. watAgame asked kids the same thing, and the result was totally different: over 60 percent uses social media to get new friends.

This means that kids, unlike grown-ups, pretty often talk to people they don’t know.

Fake profiles and playing around

Kids’ social media behaviour differs from grown-ups also in that perspective that they tend to play around. They for example create fake profiles and play games instead of actually communicating.

An expert we met at a seminar told that boys tend to be around 15 before they start using Facebook as a communication channel. This is how a 14-year-old boy puts it:

”No one shares anything relevant really. Last time I checked someone had created a profile for a potato and posted tens of selfies of it and then everybody was just sharing them.”

So, what would you reply when an 11-year-old asks if it’s ok to create a Facebook account? If you answer yes, which rules or recommendations would you give?

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About the author:

Pia Edman, watAgame

Pia Edman worked as a Finnish Community Manager at watAgame from 2009 to 2015. She has several years of experience in working with online communities and online safety as well as with digital content creation and digital advertising. Pia has a master’s degree in Finnish language.