But Johnny is Allowed!

How many times have you heard this; “But, Mom! Johnny is allowed to do it!”

How many times has that conversation ended with you sounding like YOUR parent; “….because I said so, that’s why!”

Been there. Don’t that. Welcome to Parenthood. This is our Facebook Group.

When it comes to Social Media, this is a growing issue. Your position is no Social Media accounts until your child is at least 13-years-old, but Johnny’s/Jenny’s parents allowed their child to join Social Media platforms long before they entered their teenage years. So begins the inevitable argument as to why it is OK for your child’s friends to have the cool Social Media accounts and it is not OK for your child. Here are some discussion points that you can use to explain “why no Social Media for you”.

Because Facebook Said So.

“Facebook requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account (in some jurisdictions, this age limit may be higher). Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.” – Facebook Help Centre

Facebook is the Big Dog in the Social Media space and their Social Media policies are often the template for other Social Media platforms to follow. The age selection is not arbitrary and the reason is about as straightforward as you can get; it’s the law.

Back in 1998, the US federal government passed the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, as a means of protecting children that rapidly growing (but relatively new) thing called The Net. The Act is frequently updated since it was signed into law, including revisions that address the increased use of mobile devices (Smartphones, Tablets, etc) and social networking platforms like Facebook. For the most part, Social Media Apps developed and operated by companies that have market focuses in North America and Western Europe stick to the rule. Others can be a little more….uh…flexible.

What Do You Need It For?

This is the one that usually stumps the Tween or child. Johnny or Jenny has it, so I want it, too. No other reason is usually there to be a part of the argument. In fact, Johnny and Jenny may only be using it because “the other kids have it” or because it is “cool” to have it. There is no real purpose behind it. Children under the age of 10 still have much of their life dictated and planned for them, so it’s not a “Hey, whatcha up to? Wanna hang out?” thing. It’s not a Social or Event planner. It’s not a popularity platform (yet). So why do they “need” it?

It’s also a good challenge for their friends, the next time they are asked why they are not on Social Media, yet; “Why? What do I need it for?”.

Who Are Your Friends?

Social Media is about Social Networking. Meeting and engaging with people you know, meeting and starting to engage with people you don’t know. Whether it is personal or business-oriented, it is about people and conversation. Yes, there is a lot of mindless flotsam and jetsom in the various Social Media feeds, but even a “like” or a “follow” is the beginning of a relationship in some fashion. When it comes to kids of ANY age, it is important to know who their friends are. This is especially true of kids under the age of 13, who are much more easily led into spaces that you might not want them to be led into. This is why it is important to know their friends and their families

Ask your child who their friends are, if THEY have Social Media accounts and why it is that they (the child) feels that they need a Social Media account to connect and communicate with them.Why Does Johnny/Jenny’s Parent Allow

Why Does Johnny/Jenny’s Parent Allow Them on Social Media?

This is a great opportunity to open up a conversation about Social Media with the parents of your children’s friends. Not to admonish them for allowing their under-13 child to be on a Social Media platform, but to explain why you chose not to allow yours on a Social Media platform. You may find the indifference to be unsettling, or you may find that they (the parents) don’t fully grasp the potential pitfalls of Social Media platforms (and an opportunity to educate them in the conversation). Most important is that it is a dialogue that shifts the need to you to constantly reinforce the rule to one of sharing the responsibility with a fellow parent. When the parent of your child’s friend enforces the rule when your child is in their home, the rule has, even more, weight…..on BOTH children.

This is a great opportunity to open up a conversation about Social Media with the parents of your children’s friends. Not to admonish them for allowing their under-13 child to be on a Social Media platform, but to explain why you chose not to allow yours on a Social Media platform. You may find the indifference to be unsettling, or you may find that they (the parents) don’t fully grasp the potential pitfalls of Social Media platforms (and an opportunity to educate them in the conversation). Most important is that it is a dialogue that shifts the need to you to constantly reinforce the rule to one of sharing the responsibility with a fellow parent. When the parent of your child’s friend enforces the rule when your child is in their home, the rule has, even more, weight…..on BOTH children.

The “use of technology” question is one that is front and centre in most parents conversations with kids, these days. It is important to remember, however, that it is not always a case of being the “mean parent” when denying access to certain things that your kids want. In some cases, it is easier to SHOW them why, rather than to TELL them why…..because the answers to their question may come from them or another source.

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