Social media guidelines

Social media guidelines for young people are to be drawn up by the Government. Now, this is an interesting idea that is fraught with complexity and difficulty, speaking as a father of three myself.

We don’t do Apple, we run Android in our house. Google’s account age limit is 13. We decided that this is set for a good reason but most parents seem to ignore this limit and let their children have what they want without much restriction in my experience.

One teenage girl, 17, is mature and sensible and we have always trusted her to keep things in proportion, which she does. When she was first allowed a smartphone social media was less prevalent than it was today and she seems to have grown with it in a mature way.

One pre-teen boy, aged 12 we’ve just allowed him to have WhatsApp and Snapchat which we control with Google’s Family Link, which is very good, if you don’t use it, I strongly recommend it. Google Family Link allows a parent to create a Google account for children under 13 and allows granular controls of what they can and cannot do. Boys seem to be less bothered than girls about social media (or he does anyway) and doesn’t get too distracted by hysterical noise (because there’s definitely less of it) but finds it very useful to help him socialise as sometimes boys find it easier to negotiate those tricky social invitations when messaging rather than face-to-face. It’s somewhat less embarrassing. Boys are easily embarrassed!

One pre-teen girl, aged 12, doesn’t have any social media at all and doesn’t want it. Too much hysterical noise. She feels she has to dive in sooner or later but she’s not looking forward to it. She does feel a bit left out sometimes but she doesn’t mind that much.

Like the internet, social media is very difficult to monitor and police. Good luck to the Government on this one. If I were to trust anyone to make a good job of it, I’m not sure I’d choose the Government!