At what age should you social network?

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According to figures from Mintel, half of all children aged seven to 12 visit social networking websites – and nearly half (49 per cent or an estimated 970,000) of those who do, go on Facebook “every day”.

This is despite the fact that Facebook has a minimum age limit of 13 years old.

As a consequence, it comes as no surprise that this week, a study by Beatbullying found that more than one in four (28 per cent) 11 to 16-year-olds say they have been the victim of cyberbullying, which is being bullied via technology such as mobile phones or the internet.

So at what age do our parents allow their children to use the internet and Facebook? And how do they go about monitoring what sites they use and who they talk to?

Alison Wookey, of Wellingborough, said: “My nine-year-old wants Facebook simply because his peers at school do, but he isn’t having it and he doesn’t keep asking because he knows he won’t get one as he doesn’t need one.

“If he wants to talk to family he can via my account with my supervision or give them a call or visit them. He does play the odd game online though but again it’s with our supervision and we have our PCs in the living room and none upstairs and certainly not in his room.”

Sami Cox, of Corby, said: “My daughter was 12 when she was allowed but I have full access to her accounts and we speak about anything that worries either her or me. Peer pressure is a lot to do with it, but I definitely think more parents need to check their sons’ or daughters’ pages as just being their Facebook or Twitter friend isn’t enough.”

Jayne Freeman, of Wellingborough, said: “My daughter is 11 and lots of her friends are on Facebook.

“I don’t allow her to have an account yet though as I know it can easily be used for bullying and there are a fair few unsavoury characters on there. I don’t want her to feel left out though and in a year or so when she’s old enough she will join Facebook.

“But I will make sure that she only adds people she knows and watches her privacy settings and I’ll keep an eye on it for my own piece of mind.”

Carrie Blumire, of Rushden, said: “My daughter is eight and is only allowed on the likes of Club Penguin. I have told her she can go on Facebook at 13 and I will watch her account. Luckily her school do regular internet safety talks and are against Facebook and so on. I feel it’s not the right place for young kids.”