Patterns will be patterns and we know kids try to age up. Kids in the age range of 10-12 will more times than not attempt to “age up” when presented with an age gate. Industry only needs to look to the thousands of accounts closed on Facebook weekly when the platform has actual knowledge the user has “gamed” the registration or the inappropriate images of 10-16 year olds on Instagram. Research also shows children between the ages of 8-11 say TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat are some their favorite platforms, even though many lie about their age to engage. These are just some examples.
This age group is sophisticated in its use of technology, but lacking the maturity to deal with the emotional impact, safety and privacy issues they face online. The ecosystem where kids and others interact has critical developmental needs which include online education, guidance, safety and privacy settings they can control. Unfortunately, traditional age gates don’t always do the trick.
Teaching New Habits
We teach our children how to wait for the green light before crossing the street, not to speak to strangers, not to hand out their address and phone number and how to look both ways before crossing. Well, there are some very similar rules we need to teach to our children before they take their first click on the Internet to safeguard their privacy and identity online.
We need to teach our children they are in control of their privacy and their well-being on the Internet depends upon how they follow the rules and use common sense. Just like in the real world, we wouldn’t want kids going to hang out in a bar and getting in with a fake ID. What makes the Internet any different? We shouldn’t have to make our children age up to sign up for accounts online. We need to encourage children to play in sites, apps and games for their age group. There are plenty of alternatives to Facebook and other social networks adults use.