It won’t take you long to look up some facebook horror stories. There are numerous stories about twelve year olds on facebook who are victims of cyberbullying. There are plenty of twelve year old facebook users even though Facebook rules do not allow anyone under thirteen from having an account. Unfortunately, Facebook cannot stop parents from creating accounts with a falsified age for their children.
One of the biggest risks to children using social networking sites come from their own behavior and from other children. Cyberbullying and online harassment by peers continues to be a huge and pressing issue on social networking sites. Just last week in Seattle, Washington, a 12-year old girl and her 11-year old accomplice were sentenced for cyberstalking another 12-year old through Facebook. According to the earlier-cited Consumer Reports study, over one million children experienced cyberbullying on Facebook in the past year. It can cause stress, depression, anxiety and, in some extreme cases, even lead to suicide.
The stats in the above paragraph should put some caution into the steps of any parent with a child wanting a Facebook account. That caution should be doubled if you are a parent who is about to sign up your child for an account before their 13th birthday. There’s no need to detail more stories here; you can Google them.
I’m not here to say every child is stalked or bullied by their classmates while they hang out on Facebook. Maybe the worst thing their Facebook experience will provide is a lack of interpersonal skills. However I am here to say that you should use caution when allowing your son or daughter to enter the world of social media. At the very least, monitor what they do on Facebook.
Also, think long and hard before allowing your ten, eleven or twelve year old on Facebook. Maybe there’s a reason why Facebook rules do not allow that. Maybe it’s for your child’s safety.