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kid sad on social media

Explainers

Old Enough to Vote, Old Enough to Post

October 28th, 2021

What’s the right age to begin publishing your own permanent record? Whatever it is, it ought to be older than 13.

Social media is, at its base, a record. Photos and captions, relationships and emotions, all recorded in an easy-to-search scroll. And, like everything online, it’s permanent. So why do we let 13-year-olds have social media accounts? We shouldn’t. It’s time to raise the age restriction on social media to 18.

Once you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to post.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok—they’re all powerful platforms designed by very smart people to pull users in and keep them engaged. Again and again we see most people—regardless of age—are incapable of “beating the algorithm.” If you haven’t seen The Social Dilemma, take a look.

Kids, especially, are vulnerable. Emotionally immature, they can be influenced in ways that parents don’t anticipate. But when kids use social media, they also sacrifice something they may not yet value: their privacy.

We are in the midst of designing a privacy-free world, one in which massive companies tally every purchase, every search, every post. It’s a grand—and dangerous experiment—and we have no idea how idea how it will turn out.

So why do we let you kids participate in it. All the major social platforms restrict their use to people 13 and older. That’s too young to drive, too young to drink, too young to vote.

But, according to our laws and these companies, 13 is old enough to know which parts of your life to share. Old enough to know which reactions to a photo or a friend’s post should be typed out and published for the world to see. Old enough to know whom to trust.

No way. The internet isn’t kids’ stuff and social media isn’t either. It’s time to increase the age at which a person can open a Facebook or Tik Tok account to 18. Once you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to post. And if the government won’t do it, parents can. Make sure your children are ready—are old enough—before letting them start posting.

. . .