Tweet tweet: get those kids off Twitter right now
I love Twitter. I adore the funny, sparky exchanges – the helpful stuff and the utterly bizarre. However, I do not want my kids on there and neither do I want anyone else’s.
Let’s keep Twitter a child-free zone. It’s currently the middle of the morning and a quick check on Twitter confirms that at the moment people are, as usual, making rude jokes, using swear words, discussing adult subjects and sharing things I don’t want my boys to see. Even some of the profile pictures are more explicit than I’m happy with, although Twitter claims that’s against policy.
Twitter suggests that they prefer users to be over 13, but they don’t have any checks. They don’t even have a date of birth section to fill in like Facebook does so kids can skip the bother of figuring out which year they would have been born in if they were 13.
It might seem a bit strange that I’m so opposed to children on Twitter when I let my 11-year-old son join Facebook and I’d positively encourage him and his brothers to blog. But Twitter is like the late-night bar of the internet, even in the middle of the day – and that’s no place for kids, or at least not mine.
Just not a good place for kids
I know it’s possible to put security measure in place such as protecting tweets so no one can see your messages unless you’ve allowed them to. But that still doesn’t make me happy.
My middle son is nine and the nosiest creature you could want to meet. Eavesdropping on grown-up conversations is one of his favourite things. Put it this way, he developed an out-of-charactor interest in going for walks in order to join his aunt and I on our outings. It didn’t take long before I realised he only wanted to listen in on our conversations.
I've no doubt that on Twitter he would be a menace. There are so many adult conversations going on that his little head would explode with it... and that would be messy.
What if I'm talking about them?
Worse than just general eavesdropping, I especially don't want my son listening in to my Twitter conversations – I may even be talking about him! @Grooveecar agrees. She says, “My daughter is desperate for a Twitter account, but she’s not allowed on. It’s my one place I can rant without the kids knowing.”
For many parents, Twitter is a 'safe' space... although it's worth noting that everything you post on Twitter is indeed shared on the worldwide web. Keeping kids off Twitter, then, is less about denying them an account and more about setting some boundaries: this is a space you just don't go. Whether that will work over the longer term, though, is something I don't yet know.
There are some parents who let their children use Twitter and are quite happy about it. @KirstyHigginson’s eight-year-old daughter is on Twitter. Kirsty says, “She tweets photographs of our dog & food she likes, and quite often tells me that I have a smelly bum! I think, with the security steps I have taken, it works as a good introduction into technology.”
And @JayneHowarth also uses Twitter to teach her daughter, who’s 12, about social media. Her daughter has an account with a friend to showcase their photography. Says Jayne, “She never uses her name or even says the town where she lives. I hope I've taught her well. Thankfully she's very sensible and her only chat is sending messages to celebs! I check her feed every so often (as with FB).”
Let Facebook be their playroom...
I agree it’s important to teach youngsters the pleasures and pitfalls of social media, but mine can learn somewhere else like Facebook – Twitter’s for me.
If you do decide to let your little one wade into the Twittersphere or even have an @, turn to Twitter itself for some suggestions on safe use of the network.
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