Currently, Facebook’s terms of service do not allow children on their site before age 13. Despite many parents allowing their kids to lie about their age to game the system, the accounts are discouraged and banned when discovered. I told my daughter she is not allowed to be on Facebook until 2013. To avoid being called a mean mom, I have allowed her to be on a few social networking sites.
Twitter was first, where no age requirement was associated with registration. At first, she had a protected account, and her name was “Rockin’ Rosie” instead of her first and last name. Her account, @rosie_said_what, was eventually made public, and I allowed her after two years to change her profile to her real name.
Once your child has a Twitter account, other sites that have Twitter-connect enabled can be registered. The two that Rosie uses are Klout and Pinterest. On Klout, she likes to give +K to the people she follows, and has received a few Klout Perks. On Pinterest, she can tag and pin pictures she likes online. Her pinboards gave me great ideas for gifts to get for this Christmas.
To maintain your child’s privacy, I suggest these steps:
- Carefully decide if you want your child’s first and last name used
- Do not let them share the name of their school, or the specifics of where you live
- Add your child’s account to your Tweetdeck or Twitter smartphone app so you can monitor their tweets and block predatory followers
- Supervise your child whenever possible when they are online
- Do not let your child post links to media (pictures, videos, etc) that you would not be comfortable sharing in your own feeds