My middle daughter turned 13 years old this morning. Before going to bed last night she made a point of telling me her phone was on charge, ready to install Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
It seems we have been more strict than most with our children using social media. While we read the terms and conditions of the major platforms, lots of parents of children we know seem to let them do whatever they want. I have felt incredibly mean at times – excluding her from things so many of her friends were using, but having used the internet since it’s inception, we both realised that those age limits in the terms and conditions are there for good reason.
Guess who spent his entire Saturday morning helping Miss 13 setup her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts ? Guess who also had to finally switch on “Mobile Data” on her phone, and fill it up with some credit ?
Even though we have been through this once before with our eldest, it still feels like Pandora’s Box moment. She is now “on the internet” – her name is out there. She can be found by others, and we have a few more things to watch over until we’re confident she’s old enough to manage it all herself.
While following, liking, replying, and posting stuff all over the place this morning, I couldn’t help smiling at the conversations going on:
“Don’t follow everybody you vaguely know on Facebook – only those you really know”
“Facebook is for people you know – Twitter is for people you don’t know”
“Instagram is to post anything you see that you might like to share with anybody”
“Never post anything to anywhere that you wouldn’t be happy about us seeing, or your teacher seeing – because once something is out there, you can’t undo it”.
Thankfully she has listened to her older sister’s advice about Snapchat so far:
“It’s absolutely rubbish – don’t install it”
Aside from the usual internet titans, the one thing Miss 13 has been asking for repeatedly over the last few months, is permission to start her own blog. She loves cooking (her major birthday present was a food mixer), and has been itching to start a food blog for months – filled with recipes, tips, and so on. She now has a blog quietly waiting at WordPress for her first post.