Is a Social Media Curfew a Good Idea?
Curfews have been around forever; most kids have a certain time when they’re expected to be home. And in some areas, that curfew is even enforced legally.
There’s even something of a curfew on cable television, as some television shows with more adult-centered content are only allowed to be shown after a certain time, when most kids are already asleep. Curfews can help kids maintain regular bedtimes, leading to healthier sleep habits as an adult. In many instances, they’re great for limiting the amount of contact kids have with inappropriate material or dangerous situations.
A new bill introduced in the UK is looking to enforce a “social media curfew.” It will require social media platforms to alter notification and access settings for users under a specific age. The idea is to limit access to dangerous material, as well as simply restrict the amount of time younger users may spend staring at a screen.
Some social media networks are considering implementing those settings outside of the UK, as well. However, is this social media curfew actually going to tackle child safety and wellness on the internet? Here are some things to think about as the debate continues.
It’s Almost Impossible to Make People Accurately Input Their Age, Even Adults
Lying about your age isn’t a new thing. Many people have written extended essays on how normal it is to lie about or conceal your age in everyday life. Online, that option is even more alluring! If settings start being changed for users under a certain age, it’s more than likely that some children will just lie about their age when creating an account.
Sure, enforcing a kind of curfew could be helpful for those children that do put their real age, or who have parents standing behind them or creating their profiles. But for those that don’t, this isn’t going to have much of an effect. Age verification systems can also get tricky; no one wants to upload a photo ID or social security card to make a social media account. Most people barely want to add a recovery email or phone number!
What this means is that the social curfew idea is, in some ways, flawed from the start, and it may not actually end up having as much of an effect as hoped.
Adult Content Isn’t the Biggest Threat Facing Kids Online
The attempt to cut down on the hours that kids spend online is a valiant one. And even the most technologically minded of people can generally agree that many apps geared toward children use somewhat predatory tactics. However, just cutting down on the hours kids spend online isn’t going to address the root problems.
Much of the controversy surrounding children’s use of the internet is centered around microtransactions, a practice that involves collecting small amounts of money for cosmetic or progress-based upgrades for apps and games. It can be argued that these types of transactions, alongside other predatory game mechanics, are just as big an issue as content access. Instituting some form of curfew isn’t going to fix that.
Education About Internet Safety Is Still Important
Many people don’t even think about how to teach their kids just how dangerous it can be to use the internet. Although some may bring up the basics and teach their kids not to reveal their name, address, phone number or other identifying information, many don’t ever think about talking to their kids about how dangerous that actually is.
In addition to illicit content and questionable app upgrades, there’s cyberbullying and online predators. Taking some time to explain the real world implications of poor online choices can go a long way toward teaching your children responsibility. For more ideas on how to keep your loved ones safe online, check out other posts on the PeopleFinders blog.
It’s important to institute measures that help keep kids safe and healthy online, which is why so many people are starting to enforce such measures across sites and even across countries. However, simple fixes are rarely the best answer. And that’s most likely the case with ideas such as a social media curfew. Instead of relying upon social media sites to enforce safety for your child, it’s ultimately up you to help them understand the importance of not giving out any sort of private information…and to make sure they put their phone down and talk to real people once in a while.
Photo Credit: niroworld – stock.adobe.comTags: Children, Legal Issues, Social Media, Technology
Categorized in: Culture