Increasingly, teens and preteens incorporate social medial websites such as Facebook, Myspace, Club Penguin, YouTube and blogs into their daily routine. According to a recent poll, 22 percent of teens visit their favorite social media site more than 10 times a day. The April 2011 issue of Pediatrics includes a clinical report that outlines the impact social media has on children and families.
Benefits of social media include socialization, enhanced learning opportunities and easy access to health information. However, according to the authors of the report, teens and children are at some risk because of their susceptibility to peer pressure and limited capacity to set boundaries on social media usage. Cyberbullying and online harassment, sexually explicit messages, depression, exposure to targeted advertisement and lack of privacy are all risks that stem from using social media.
For several social media websites, 13 years is the minimum age to participate because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which prevents websites from collecting information from younger children without parental permission. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends respecting these age policies.