As much as parents would like to believe they can control when to allow their children to sign up for Facebook, the reality is far more complicated. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) prohibits users younger than 13 from accessing social media. However, while the law – and parents – may ban access, underaged children are still signing up for the service, often unbeknownst to their parents.
Use your parental influence on critical discussions regarding privacy and safe social media behaviors. Children need to understand that their presence on Facebook creates a portrait of themselves that may be available to individuals and organizations outside their privacy settings. This is a great opportunity to listen to your child, and let them know that they can trust you to support them as they begin to engage in social media.