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Do you know if your child’s on Facebook or Instagram?

Although the minimum age is 13, there are many younger children who are hidden users on Facebook and other social media networks.

According to a recent US study reported about in the Atlantic, one-quarter of children aged 12 and under used Facebook and lied about their age to join the site.

34% of Facebook users in the study were 8-to-10-year-olds.

Even more shocking, Consumer Reports found that, of the twenty million minors on Facebook, 7.5 million of them are under age 13.

Facebook isn’t the only social media platform with hidden, underage users. Photo-sharing sites and apps, such as Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat, which all have a minimum age of 13, are especially popular among the elementary school set.

Although there is no hard data on how many underage kids use the app, the Atlantic reports that Instagram is the most-used photography site for 12-to-17-year-olds.

Is underage social media use harmful to children?

According to the psychologists and educators in the US study, “Engaging in these online social interactions prior to necessary cognitive and emotional development that occurs throughout middle childhood could lead to negative encounters or poor decision-making.

As a result, teachers and parents need to be aware of what children are doing online and to teach media literacy and safe online habits at younger ages than perhaps previously thought.”

This means that kids younger than 13 are joining social media networks that are meant for teenagers and adults before they’re developmentally and cognitively ready.

According to cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken, children ages 4 to 12 are the most vulnerable population online. But this age group is not only vulnerable to online predators, cyber bullies, and adult content.

Aiken argues that kids under 13 haven’t gone through the stages of identity formation yet, and therefore have trouble distinguishing their cyber-selves from reality.

What are other consequences of underage social media use?

The Atlantic reports that, in general, the younger the user, the more friends they have on a social media network. On the face of it, this sounds like a good thing.

However, studies have shown that these young users are more prone to cyber bullying because although they may have more friends on Facebook, often the friends they have in their large online network are not true friends.

Their “friends” on social networks may be classmates or casual acquaintances, rather than close friends. This may explain why a Consumer Reports study found that during the past year alone 1 million children were harassed, threatened, or subjected to other forms of cyber bullying on Facebook.

How can you teach your child about social media in a protected environment?

There is a safer alternative to Facebook and Instagram. It’s the eebudee app. Designed for kids 13 and under, eebudee is a secure app that allows kids, their parents, close friends, and extended family members to learn about social media in a safe, private environment. (Only you, the parent, or another responsible adult determines who can join in.)

With eebudee, kids learn to communicate, interact, and behave online, without the real-world dangers and consequences. The eebudee chat app is available on Android and iPhone.

You can also sign up for eebudee on our website to learn more about safe social media.

The eebudee online platform and app are in beta phase and will be officially launched mid-year 2017. If you have any feedback or suggestions, we would love to hear from you.


How Social Media is Used in the Classroom

At eebudee, we’re passionate about promoting safe social media practices for kids and their families. And this week, we’re exploring how social media is being used inside the classroom. Once seen as a distraction, more and more teachers are now using social media platforms to enhance lessons and make learning more fun.

The research

According to Dr. Richard J. Light, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the use of social media platforms in schools can enable engaging group learning activities, or “communities of practice,” where young learners interact and share ideas.

Education World reports that, in the classroom, social media is increasingly used to encourage students to connect with each other and the world, and outside of the classroom, schools use social media (such as newsletters, tweets, and school/PTA Facebook pages) to communicate with parents and updatethem about special events and daily activities.

Blended learning and social media

With the concept of blended learning gaining traction in classrooms across the nation, it’s no surprise that social media is also becoming a popular teaching tool. (Blended learning is a hybrid teaching methodology that promotes e-learning in conjunction with traditional classroom methods.)

One such example is Blackboard, an online, educational social media platform where teachers can upload videos, recorded lessons, games, quizzes, and other learning material to a content library that students can access from any device. Students can learn topics at their own pace, easily catch up on material if they are out, and participate in online interactive discussion boards.

Blackboard helps students stay engaged in their learning at home and in the classroom.

Schools that are adopting social media

Building community

One proponent of social media use in the classroom is Jim Asher, the Principal of Jackson P. Burley Middle School in Albemarle County, Virginia. Jim sees social media as a great way to build a sense of community within a classroom.

Using Twitter

In addition to using Blackboard, teachers at Burley Middle School are encouraged to implement a classroom Twitter account to connect students with the world, as well as share articles, ideas, and graphics.

Jim explained on Edutopia that with Twitter, the entire class can have “real-time dialogues with experts, museums, publishers, journalists, and more.”He noted that his students were excited when a major library retweeted details about a project the class was working on.

Sharing on Instagram

Instagram can also be used in the classroom to showcase student work and supplement auditory learning with visuals. Jim explained that one of his teachers took videos of student artwork and posted them to his Instagram account.

Since elementary and middle school students are too young to have their own Instagram accounts, teachers often set up their own account, or an account for the classroom as a whole.

Creating video blogs

At Jason Lee Elementary School in Portland, Oregon, Principal Isaac Cardona said that they are piloting a program where students in their middle school leadership class will create online video blogs that will be shown in the classroom in place of intercom announcements.

The idea behind the program is to build computer literacy and allow students to express themselves online just as they would on pencil and paper. Isaac explained that this program will let students use technology to plan, film, and edit their video announcements and presentations.

Using social media safely in the classroom

For educators, the key lies in ensuring that social media platforms aren’t used in the classroom simply for the sake of it, but that they are employed in a safe, responsible, and appropriate manner that enhances learning.

After all, schools are realizing that students need to learn how to use social media and related technology safely in order to navigate today’s world.

Is social media used as an educational tool at your child’s school? What do you think about social media being used in the classroom? Log in to comment below and join the discussion. You can also check out our Safe Social Media for Kids Facebook page to discover more safe social media tips and news.