Kids are just naturally curious by nature. They want to explore, to discover…that’s how they learn. And even though we want to encourage them in that, we also want to protect them from any dangers that might occur during that exploration. That’s why we set up boundaries for them. And depending on their age, those boundaries move and increase.
The same holds true in the digital world. Depending on their age, children should have varying degrees of screen time and access to social media platforms. In fact, COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, prohibits any person under the age of 13 of having a social media account.
Unfortunately, we all know that many young people not yet 13 years of age either lie about their age or have their parents set up an account for them in order to access social media sites. Facebook tried to create a messaging site just for kids back in 2019. That didn’t work out very well given that it contained a bug which made it possible for thousands of kids to join group chats with total strangers despite Facebook’s claim of having “strict privacy controls.”
Now Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is in the process of creating and launching a site specifically geared towards children. The purpose of this new Insta for kids is to help deter instances of online abuse of children, but the ways in which they plan to do that are still unknown. Even if the creators of Instagram are able to provide such a platform, I can’t help but still be cautious about it. Here’s why.
We all want to believe our kids will stay in the guidelines we’ve set before them. They will obey the rules and regulations put in place for their benefit. We want to believe that, but let’s be honest….it doesn’t always happen. Not because children have a deep desire to disobey, but as stated earlier, they are curious. It only takes one little click to take them on a totally different rabbit trail that could ultimately lead to something we never want them to experience.
So instead of allowing our children to have access to another online platform, maybe we should encourage them to go outside and explore what is around them. Maybe one evening you can go outside and look at the stars to try to find and identify the constellations. You could even google what they are first and then try to find them in the sky.
The point being, let’s help our kids be kids for as long as we can. They’ll be doing all the teen stuff soon enough…no need to help rush it.