WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE OF USE?
Here's a question we get asked a lot... "At what age should my child use Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, or (fill in the blank)?
In "Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology," Cyberwise founder Diana Graber answers this question with 7 questions parents and caregivers should ask themselves before handing a child a connected device of any kind. Download the checklist to the right.
We also recommend following the media use guidelines put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
0 to 2. For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting. Parents of children 18 to 24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they're seeing.
2 to 5. For children 2 to 5, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
6 & up. For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.
Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
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Before you give your child their own device, take some time to introduce them to tech slowly and developmentally-appropriately. And use tech together! Check out our "Digital On-Ramps" below for some ideas on how to do this!
Ages 12 & Up
The 12-13 age range is critical when it comes to technology. First, most social media sites require young people to be at least 13 years of age to sign up. Secondly, research shows that it takes children about 12 years to fully develop the cognitive structures that enable them to engage in ethical thinking. Before 12 it's difficult, if not impossible, for children to fully grasp the impact of their actions upon others, online or otherwise. This is very important, because a child's actions online (as well as their friends' actions) will impact their digital reputations.
Teenagers, believe it or not, look to their parents more than any other source to learn how to conduct themselves online. This is an important time to talk with your teens about their online lives. And don't have just one talk; have hundreds of small talks. In fact, many advise "Replacing the 'Sex Talk with the 'Tech Talk'"