The use of social networking sites by young children has grown rapidly. Sometimes children under 10 are using sites that were designed for much older users.
Social networking is only one of the increasingly interactive activities designed for young children online, many with a commercial focus. There are a number of websites that are commercial brand sites; there are also social networking sites and interactive virtual worlds, often dubbed ‘virtual playgrounds’. The distinction between these three types of sites is rapidly blurring.
Some sites have clear policies on the minimum age for membership or registration. Sites designed for young children rely on parental supervision to ensure the site is appropriate. You can compare the safety information, policies and level of monitoring of interaction between people on the sites as you select one for your child.
There is a lot of helpful information available for parents on monitoring their children’s social networking profiles and deciding what’s appropriate for your family. If your child is ready for an online profile, then they are also ready for a very important discussion about privacy and digital profiles. No child under 10 needs a fully public profile – the profile needs to be restricted to friends and family.