Which social media services are age restricted?
WhatsApp - users now need to be 16
Tiktok - 13 (and anyone under the age of 18 must have parents' permission)
Facebook - 13
Snapchat - 13
Instagram - 13
Twitter - 13
Musical.ly - 13
Skype - 13
Youtube - 13 or older to have their own YouTube account (enabling them to subscribe to other channels, like videos, post comments, share their own content and flag inappropriate content). No age restriction for watching videos on YouTube but children should be closely supervised.
Why do these restrictions exist?
The reason most social media services use an age limit of 13 or over is in part because of a law in the USA. The COPPA law or Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
There are also other elements of social media use which may not be appropriate for young users.
It is always better to wait until the required age to join any social media service. These rules around age relate to privacy, but also are relevant to safety. Some services offer additional protection for users who are registered as under 18, and by supplying a fake age young people can potentially lose some of this protection. Young people also risk being exposed to content which is intended for older users when they use sites that are not designed for people their age.
Additionally, if a service finds out a user is underage then they may delete the user’s account and any content which has been shared.
We know that social media services are popular with young people of all ages. Parents have an important role in helping prepare their children to go online before they start to use social media platforms. Together you can look at the key things they need to know about staying safe online, critical thinking, and the safety settings that are available to them.