DD1 is eleven years old. She’s just started secondary school and we’ve upgraded her from a basic call-and-text only Nokia to a bottom of the range Samsung smart phone. She thinks it’s the bee’s knees.
She can now take photos and send them to her friends. She can now go online and watch YouTube videos. And she can now worship at the alter of the great god Social Media. Or can she?
Our problem is that all of the sites she wants to join have a lower age limit of at least 13. WhatsApp, Facebook, Pinterest and her personal favourite, Instagram. For all of these you are supposed to be 13 or over, but her friends who are mostly 11 and 12, all seem to have them on their phones.
‘I’m the only one who doesn’t’, wails my daughter. And I think she may be right.
So what’s going on? Do their parents not know there is a lower age limit to join these sites? Do their parents not care?
I don’t know, and I can’t really ask. Secondary school is not like primary school. These mothers are not my friends. I am lucky if I have their phone numbers and know their names. If I start talking to them about why their children have lied about their ages, that’s not going to come over terribly well is it?
So I’ll stay quiet. DD will be 12 next month so she’s not going to be 13 for another year. She really wants Instagram on her phone. She has researched it well.
- You must be 13 years or older to use this site.
- You may not post nude, partially nude, or sexually suggestive photos.
- You are responsible for any activity that occurs under your screen name.
- You are responsible for keeping your password secure.
- You must not abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate or intimidate other Instagram users.
Apart from number 1, these all fit in well with how I’ve told her she must use her time online. It seems harmless doesn’t it? And she keeps pleading. Sometimes she has tears in her eyes…
So what should I do? What have you done? And if you’ve let your child have access to Social Media and allowed them to lie about their age, how do you justify it?