Is my child too young to use Facebook?

While Facebook can help your child make connections with friends, it can also serve as a way for predators to find potential victims.

 When it comes to allowing your child to use Facebook, how young is too young?

With the rise of the social networking site Facebook, it can be tricky for parents to know whether or not to allow their children to have access to the app.

While it is up to you to decide whether your child is old enough, it’s also important to note that Facebook requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account. Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.

Age restriction aside,  there are pros and cons to these kinds of sites and as responsible parents, the key is being aware of both and weighing whether or not your child is capable of handling themselves in this kind of situation. There is no one umbrella response that covers all possibilities.

Whether you are comfortable allowing your young child to participate in these sites is entirely up to you.  But if you are considering it, there are some things you should bear in mind:

The era of technology

Our children are growing up in an era of innovative technologies. It’s our responsibility as parents to be aware of this technology so that we can at least have a basic understanding of what our kids are talking about. If your child were going to a party, you would want the relevant details. Well, Facebook is the same thing, only on a much broader spectrum.

If you do choose to let your child have a Facebook page, set it up together and make sure you set very strict rules for participation. You need to be sure that your child is safe and not being exposed to any content they aren’t prepared to handle, so don’t be afraid to limit who they have as friends and always be aware of their password so that you can access their site.

Keep track of their profile

Once they are up and running, make sure you keep up with what they post, when they post, and who they interact with. It’s ok to go online and check their page or their friends’ pages. With the potential dangers inherent in sites like these, a little extra caution is a good thing, so don’t be afraid to be nosey.

Watch out for selfies and older friends

Be particularly cautious about allowing them to upload photos and about allowing them to have adult friends. That should be an automatic no-no for any child, much less one as young as 13. It is far too easy for them to fall prey to adult predators and the worst assumption you can make is that they are safe just because they are in your house.

Why Facebook can be valuable to your child

Social networking can be a very healthy and even helpful avenue, particularly for children who have difficulty socialising otherwise, especially in a time of Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing.

More to the point, it is not anything to be afraid of. It is basically the modern version of “hanging out” with their friends, only it’s done in cyberspace instead of at each other’s houses. It doesn’t have to be threatening if handled correctly.

Make your own decision

Ultimately, the decision about when to let your child participate on Facebook and other social networking sites is up to you. Only you can know what is right for your child. Eventually, you’ll have to face this decision, the best you can do is to make sure you are well informed when you make it; for their sake and yours.

Take steps to protect your child

The following information is an excerpt on Facebook rules and how to protect the privacy of your children from http://www.pilgrimworks.com/Facebook.htm:

“Facebook has a wide range of privacy settings available, and in general you want all the privacy you can get. Most of the horror stories about social networking involve kids making information public and/or making contact with strangers. The rules below are generally designed to avoid all contact with strangers. The key concept is to use Facebook only to interact with real personal friends.”