Let’s be pragmatic about this, as a father of two and a youth practitioner for 15 years, I don’t think children should be accessing social media until they reach the legal age. 

Yet statistically some parents, for whatever reason, are not enforcing the legal requirements. We are forever aware that children are becoming more savvy at using smart devices than your average parent or youth worker. The parents allowing it are possibly going to take one of two stances. Either they think it is fine that their children have the freedom to express themselves, or they don’t fully understand the risks.

This leads me to ask the question: how are we educating children who have access to smart devices and their parents? Do parents know that their children have active profiles? How can we encourage them to stay within the law and, in doing so, limit the risks and dangers to their child?

Children need to be educated from a young age. If we wait until children are 13 to start educating them on the use of social media, we are not acknowledging that the issue of young people being online under age exists. The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” This is very relevant to their social media usage.

As a child I was taught about managing my money, cleaning the house and crossing the road. Responsible adults in children’s lives still have a role to play in teaching modern life lessons. We want children and young people to have people speaking with integrity into their lives to enable them to feel secure in making the right choices about social media. We want to prevent tragedies like cyber bullying, sharing indecent images, being groomed or even encouraged to take their own lives.

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