Every social network and online service should (and most do) have a certain level of age restriction, that’s normally interrogated when a user signs up. That’s why you’re often asked to input your birthdate when registering to use an online service. If you’re not sure what the age restrictions are for each online service, take a look at this useful infographic that Tech Granny posted in 2014.
Of course, it’s relatively easy to fib about your birthdate and gain access to online services most often reserved for adults, but that’s another story entirely. That’s another reason why it’s important that parents play a role in guiding and supervising their children’s online journeys, and oversee their online activities.
But where are kids logging in online?
According to this recent roundup by Commonsense Media, teens are moving beyond Facebook and exploring new ways to connect online. SnapChat and Instagram are proving popular, with confession site, Whisper also starting to make some waves with teenagers. Common Sense Media have broken down what parents can expect with each network or online service here, so take a look at what they have to say about each of the messaging and social media platforms here.
Pew Research Centre
This April 2015 report from the Pew Research Centre shows that teens, when armed with smartphones, regularly and quickly embrace an online way of life. When it comes to platforms, “Teens are diversifying their social network site use. A majority of teens — 71% — report using more than one social network site out of the seven platform options they were asked about. Among the 22% of teens who only use one site, 66% use Facebook, 13% use Google+, 13% use Instagram and 3% use Snapchat.” You can read more about these findings here.
The South African context
But in the South African context, where smartphones are still on the up and up when it comes to mobile handset penetration (but it won’t be long!), we’d need to adjust those figures. While smartphones are rapidly rising when it comes to handset ownership, South Africa is currently recording a penetration level of just over thirty percent, according to the Huawei Global Connectivity Index.
Beyond the statistics though, more and more teenagers are taking to the online world to carve out a career or share their stories. Take a look at Caspar Lee and his rise to online fame, and remember – at first, he was just a kid with a camera at one point. For an insightful look into what an older teen thinks about social media, read this post.
The last word
The way our children experience childhood was always destined to be remarkably different to the way modern-day parents grew up. Think about it this way – nowadays, our children are far more likely to happen upon technology and embrace it as a part of their life, whereas we (if you grew up in the 80s and 90s like I did!) can still remember the thrill of the very first time our families “Got the Internet”. Let’s love this evolution and lets help our kids have a healthy, balanced relationship with the digital world, no matter where they log in online.