Some Social Media Accounts Can’t Be Deleted

According to Pew Research, more than 2/3 of kids own their own smartphone by the age of 13. If you’re a parent reading this, chances are good that you have a teen in your house that fits into this category.

Same goes for many younger kids – one might assume that well over half of 12-year olds own their own smartphone. We focus here on the 12-13 year cohort because 13 is the age at which a kid can legally use social media sites and apps. 12-year olds shouldn’t be on social media, but often are. This is especially true in our experience of the under-13’s who have a smartphone.

Some parents have a tight rein on which apps their kids are allowed to download and when; others leave the kids to their own devices. While we certainly recommend that parents of younger users give permission before new apps are downloaded and accounts are created, what’s already on your child’s phone can cause problems, from cyberbullying to predator risk to all sorts of bad behavior.

One related problem is that if a parent tells a child to delete a problematic social app, and the child agrees, it may be difficult of impossible to delete the account entirely or all the content.account-killer

AccountKiller is a free service that gives helpful instructions on how to delete social accounts. It separates sites into white, grey and black categories. White means accounts are easy to delete, black means it is impossible (!) and grey means something in between.

Let’s pick on Ask.fm as an example, rated “grey” by AccountKiller. From their site:

“Publicly visible text/images often aren’t properly deleted even when you succeed in deleting an account. Try editing or deleting them manually before deleting the account itself. If you’re unsure what happens to your tracks: this can be found mostly in the Terms of Service/Privacy Policy; otherwise you can always contact Ask.FM and ask personally. By the way, deletion requests don’t necessarily mean your data will actually be deleted (e.g. due to legal obligations).”

Note to parents: Even for networks on the whitelist, deleting an account may not be instantaneous. For example, if you delete your Facebook account, they will “delay the deletion process a few days in case you change your mind”. You child can log in the next day and the account will be intact.

We encourage parents who have already given smartphones to their kids to give a lot of thought to which apps and social media accounts they are allowed to use. Consider the age and maturity of the child, the type of activity that happens on that site, and keep in mind that it may be impossible to delete the account should problems arise.

 

 

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