I listened with interest to this morning’s phone in on Five Live which looked at the worries of youngsters on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace following criticisms of those networks for not putting any kind of help button on the site for people that are experiencing bullying or child abuse. Bebo a site that is perhaps bigger in the UK than the rest of the world has put such a help button on their own social networking site.
What soon became apparent as the debate developed was that:
- Most parents were unaware that these sites had a starting age limit of 13 years.
- Parents had allowed some children as young as 7 years to sign up to social networking sites
- Parents largely gave in to peer pressure such as “but all my friends are on it”.
- Youngsters like to be seen to have as many friends as possible
- Some youngsters can have as many as 600 contacts most of whom they don’t know in real life
- Youngsters are more tech savvy than their parents so parents leave most things to their children
I was surprised at the extent to which some parents were prepared to just blank this aspect of parental responsibility. One local authority had run a free course to help parents get helpful information on how to manage access to social networking sites but only two parents availed themselves of the workshop.
18 age limit on xbox360
An example of age limiting access to such sites comes in the form of Microsoft who have just launched access to social networking sites on their Xbox 360 games console but are to actively block access for users below the age of 18 by only allowing gold membership users to access the services (a 12 month paid for fee is payable to unlock access). Don’t go thinking that Microsoft are doing this purely in the name of being responsible. It’s probably just as likely being implemented to reduce their liability as much as anything else.
I know many parents are just going to use the excuse that their children are the tech savvy members of the family but isn’t it about setting barriers, getting informed, getting help, taking responsibility and putting appropriate measures in place to safeguard your children?
Easy for me to say I know but I must admit I was a little taken aback at the buck passing by some parents with regard to this.
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