We have all heard the adage, 40 is the new 20, but did you know that age 13 is now the new 18? Thanks to the cyberworld and the provisions that legislators have put into place to “safe guard” our children, 13 is the legal age that most social media sites have adopted which children are allowed to sign up and have an account. In 1998, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was passed which imposed certain requirements on websites and other online services in regards to collecting personal information from a child under 13. This Act was amended in 2013 to increase the scope as to definitions of online services.
13 is now the age that children are allowed to tweet, text, chat, snap, post, pin and much more on the social media sites using their own personal accounts. What also was developed from this is a market place for social media sites to focus on teenagers. Dating sites such as Tinder, My LOL and OkCupid and many more have now created areas to put teens in touch with each other in the same manner that they created the sites for adults. Many have chat rooms, allow for private conversations and some allow for geo tracking in a certain radius.
Whether you agree or disagree with online teen dating, it is still territory for online predators and risky behavior. It is imperative to know what your children are doing online whether they are 8 or 18. Talk to them about what apps they have on their phones, ask them to show you what games they are playing, be friends with them on Facebook and Instagram, KNOW who they are talking to. Stay on top of your children’s online activity. If you do not understand what they are doing, learn it. Just because every other teenager has the app does not necessarily make it okay. When you have a conversation with them about their online use and work with them, it does not invade their privacy. Most importantly, talk to them about making good decisions, what that means and their consequences. Is it safe for your 13 year old to make a date online with someone they have never met face to face? Would you want that person to know where you live or where your child goes to school? It is a very new, frightening world out there and our children need to be aware of it.
#IsyourchildonTinder #myreamrkableself #stopcyberbullying
—Mary & Claire
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