What is the Appropriate Age to Start Using Social Media?

Anthony Chan and Shawyan Rooein

After social media’s popularity grew over a short period of time, problems were quickly raised such as cyberbullying. Nowadays, children are becoming more attached to using social media on their cellphones.

Children have become susceptible to the harm from other users, so age restrictions were lightly enforced the creation of social media accounts. Most require the age of 13, but we think the minimum should be changed to 15 to protect users from phone addiction and cyberbullying.

“I understand that it is the popular thing to do. I just think for this time I would say 13 is too young,” social studies teacher Wind Ralston said. “ It’s just too young. The brain is developing,”

Ralston explains that although maturity levels are subject to change from child to child, many children are not ready to engage in social media at a young age. Many may not understand what is right or wrong to say on social media platforms due to the development of a child’s brain, so there is a risk for unintentional cyber bullying, which is a problem in itself. Letting children experience social media at too young of an age would end up fueling the already present issue of cyberbullying.

According to Huffington Post, “Research shows that it takes children about 12 years to fully develop the cognitive structures that enable them to engage in ethical thinking. Before 12 it’s difficult, if not impossible, for a child to fully grasp the impact of their actions upon others, online or otherwise.”

Although research shows 12 years of age is needed for children to gain cognitive structures for ethical thinking, children past that age can still cause problems to themselves and others. 15 years gives children enough time to mature and realize what may be right or wrong to say and post online.

“I personally believe that under the right supervision, social media can be safe with younger kids; however, under negligent supervisions and negligent guidance, I believe the social media can easily damage the growth of younger kids,” sophomore Alex Hwang said.

Social media does offer many benefits such as connecting friends and family together. With care, social media in the right hands is beneficial for most users, but age limits should be implemented to maintain a positive platform for users.

In addition, for many families, children could become attached to social media, constantly checking their feeds, which could cause them to not interact personally as much. Magazine Adweek stated, “18 percent of social media users can’t go a few hours without checking Facebook, and 28 percent of iPhone users check their Twitter feed before getting up in the morning.

“Technology takes us out of the present sometimes, and I want my child to be present in his surroundings,” Ralston said. “So if we go out to dinner, I don’t want him sitting on an iPhone playing a game; I want him interacting with his family.”