Kid watching tablet before bed.

"When can I sign up for Instagram?"

"Why can't I be on Twitter yet?"

"How come I'm the only one not on Facebook?"

"When Can I Get on Social Media?"

Thousands of parents have to answer this question every day: "When can I get on social media?"

And I beckon a question in response: how young is too young for social media?

Every social media site or app has a registration requirement that states that a person must be at least 13 in order to have an account. Though lax in the past, the social media world has gotten more serious about keeping kids safe online by keeping them off of their site.

Facebook alone removes thousands of under-13 profiles from their site each day. But in the long run, is it that big of a deal if children are on there or not?

"Who Really Cares?"

It would be easy to say, "Who really cares if my 12-year-old is on social media. He's almost 13, right? Who would ever know?" There are several reasons why it matters. And they all come back to character.

For one, I would know...and my son would know. I've been teaching him that integrity is what you do even when no one is watching. And that character is created by the small decisions we make. So to tell a small lie about one's age when no one will know and no one will get hurt—yeah, it still matters.

Saying, "No, not yet," has also given us a prolonged period of time to model for our son (and daughter who is right on his heels) how to use social media properly. Now he seems better prepared for the plunge instead of being thrown in and figuring it out along the way. The preparation process has also given me confidence in his ability to use this new medium in a God honoring and self-honoring way.

5 Issues to Discuss Before Setting Up Social Media

Here five issues to discuss with your young teen before letting him or her set up a profile:

  1. Privacy: Your profile should always be set to "private." This allows only people that are your "friends" to see your profile, postings, photos, etc.

  2. Permanence: When you post something on Facebook, it is retrievable forever by Facebook. Basically your posts belong to them.

  3. Pictures: Any picture you post can be saved by someone else and passed on to anyone they want. Ask yourself, "Do I really want anyone seeing me in that bathing suit, at that party, holding that sign, etc.?"

  4. Bullying: Words hurt, especially when they tear down someone's character or value. Never post something that is demeaning to someone else, even if you only mean it as a joke.

  5. Moderation: Even though finding community and friendships on social media is the norm of your generation, it can never take the place of face-to-face time with friends and family. Set limits for yourself concerning how much time you'll be on Facebook each day.

Article courtesy of Parenting Teens.

Brian Housman has been working with parents and teens for more than 20 years and is a regular speaker at camps and conferences. You can connect with Brian on Twitter at @awaketolife and read more from him on teens and technology in his book Tech Savvy Parenting.