We wrote earlier this month about how many parents view their pre teens’ internet safety in the framework of whether or not they have a Facebook account. For many parents, Facebook equals social media, and if they haven’t given their child permission to have a Facebook account (a) they don’t have one, and (b) their online activities are probably safe.
Percentage if European children aged 6 – 9 who have their own Facebook account:
- UK – 56%
- Spain – 61%
- Germany – 12%
- France – 14%
I’m willing to bet that not all of the parents above expressly gave consent for the children to have a Facebook account.
What are the risks if your 9 year old is on Facebook without your knowledge? They primarily revolve around safety, obviously:
- Privacy settings might not be set appropriately
- Checkins or geolocation information may give strangers too much information about where she is and when
- Too many personal photos
- Personally identifying information such as email address, home address, close friends, favorite activities
All of the above could make your child open to approach or contact by a potential predator, or give that predator enough info to make a credible entree. Just being on Facebook could expose her to inappropriate content, depending on what your definition of this is.
If your 9 year old has an email address, she can easily sign up for Facebook, ignoring the fact that the stated age limit is 13 (14 in Spain). The Facebook sign up process asks your age, but has no way of verifying it.
Go ahead and ask your son or daughter if they have a Facebook account. And feel free to ask again next month. If her friends decide to get on Facebook one day, she probably will too. We’re not saying that she shouldn’t be on Facebook; we’ll leave that decision to parents. Knowledge of what really going on is a necessary first step to guiding safe behavior.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.