If you are the parent of a child in elementary school, you have almost undoubtedly been asked about social media by your child at some point. They know what it is and they feel like they are missing out on something if they aren't a part of it. Furthermore, these questions about actually opening their own accounts are seemingly happening earlier and earlier. According to these child psychologists, there is a very concrete age range for when social media is actually appropriate for kids and studies share the average ages nationwide when kids and getting their own accounts.
At any time, your child could approach you, asking about opening their very own social media accounts. Obviously, as parents this can be worrisome and kind of intimidating to navigate because it opens so many new doors and try as we might - we can't have control or oversee all of it at all times. Through this process though, we find ourselves asking: what is the right age for a child to actually establish a social media presence? Due to the ever-growing popularity of social media, experts are weighing in.
First, according to a Common Sense Media census report from 2016, Caroline Knorr, a San Francisco-based parenting expert with the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media shares that, “our understanding is that about half of kids have some form of social media by age 12." This study was nationally represented and based on a survey of 1,786 parents in the United States whose children are eight to 18, completed in July of 2016.
The main takeaways of this very telling report was that 56 percent of the children had their own social media accounts, based on the parents’ survey responses. The average age they shared as to when these accounts were opened was 12.6 years. The breakdown was that 80 percent of all teenagers (ages 13-18) in the group had their own social media accounts, compared with 23 percent of all tweens (ages 8-12), data from the parents’ responses revealed.
The additional component of all this that is also important for parents to consider is if your child is actually developmentally ready. Each child develops at different rates and while some might be mature enough for social media at age 12.6 years, others may not.
Simplemost shared that child psychologist, Vivian Friedman from the University of Alabama at Birmingham pointed out how children ages 6 to 12 develop the ability to think in concrete ways, and then during adolescence, between 12 and 18, they acquire the ability to think more abstractly.
With most social media sites requiring that users must be at least 13 years of age in order to sign up, parents will play a big role in the decision-making process and it's incredibly important to weigh the pros and cons of opening one from your child. Remember to protect your child's online safety by monitoring their use and talking openly about social media as a family.