UAE: Social media giant reveals when the right time is for kids to have access to social media

Popular app TikTok has placed certain restrictions and conditions on kids under the age of 13


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Mon 29 May 2023, 5:21 PM

Children aged 13 and above are digitally literate enough to be allowed to have access to social media platforms, say experts.

Kevin Morgan, head of trust and safety at TikTok Europe, Middle East & Africa, said kids are going online in secondary school at the age of 12-13, therefore, regardless of whether it is TikTok or other platforms, kids are digitally literate.

The popular social media app has put certain restrictions and conditions on kids under the age of 13 and 16.

“By default, for kids under 16 content is shareable with friends and families but not necessarily with the broader world. We know the journey, so we shouldn’t be giving kids all of the access to all the things from day one. It is not [a] case of suppressing their usage; it is really recognising and making sure that content is appropriate for different age groups,” said Morgan, on the sidelines of a panel discussion held to discuss safety and digital well-being on TikTok.

Hanan Ezzeldin, founder and CEO of The Family Hub, echoed Morgan’s views, saying, “Kids aged 13 and above should be given access to social media apps and platforms – not younger.”

Put a time-limit

She advised parents to have conversations with their children before they go online. “You have to have a proper conversation about what is privacy, what are things to be shared, how to be kind and unkind to somebody, and report a matter to an adult if the child sees someone being mean to somebody he or she knows. All of these steps we have to take before parents allow their kids to start using social media,” she said.

Importantly, she stressed that parents should set a time-limit, and this will require persistence through resistance, as kids are not going to be happy with this action. “But we have to be there and we have to give them the best support,” she added.

As for parents installing policing-type apps on phones for monitoring, however, Kevin Morgan said he would not necessarily recommend this practice.

“It is an early conversation. But I do speak to my kids about social media, technology, being online and what it means and the risks associated with it. We should have a conversation with kids really very early,” he added.


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