When Should Kids Be Allowed to Use Social Media? Scientists Might Have an Answer

Social media is something that can do both good and bad for society with all things having been considered and taken into account. While adults should be free to use social media if they choose as long as they know about the potential downsides, a growing consensus has emerged that kids should be kept away from it, although there is no consensus as of right now on what the minimum age should be to allow kids to start using social media in the first place all in all.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that a study conducted by the Wellesley Centers for Women and Lynch Research Associates has come up with a possible minimum age, and it’s 11.

Children younger than 11 that were exposed to social media were found to exhibit problematic digital behaviors, a term that the paper itself uses, once they got a bit older. Kids are often allowed to use social media at a very young age but this is harmful because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up making them inculcate bad habits that would be really difficult for them to avoid later on in life.

The study involved a survey of 750 kids in middle school, and the ones that joined social media before the age of 11 often had friends online that were not healthy for them to be around. Parents often control who their kids meet and see in real life, and this should extend to their online friendships as well otherwise it would be somewhat difficult to prevent these kids from making mistakes that they would not fully understand the implications of due to their young age.

Most social media platforms require their users to be at least thirteen years of age, but the problem with this is that you can put in your date of birth yourself which means that kids can effectively lie about their age and not have to face any consequences. More safety nets need to be put in in order to ensure that kids aren’t using social media when they should be experiencing more positive things in life. Until and unless something of this sort happens, one simply can’t say that the future generation is safe and it will be hard to see them develop behavioral disorders due to early social media exposure.

Credit: Michael Zwahlen/Getty Images/EyeEm

Read next: Researchers Show Privacy Policies Are Too Complex for Some Age Groups to Understand
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