Catherine Scott: Why I let my ten year old have Instagram.

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A new survey has found that a majority of 10 to 12-year-olds use social media despite being below the age limit.

A new survey has found that a majority of 10 to 12-year-olds use social media despite being below the age limit.

Social media services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat require account holders to be at least 13 years-old.

But a survey by the BBC’s news programme for children, Newsround, found that more than three-quarters of younger children at primary-leaving age were using at least one social media network.

I have to hold my hand up and admit that I am one of those parents that allowed my 10-year-old to set up an Instagram account in my name. It followed months of pleading from said 10-year-old who was ‘the only girl in the class’ not to have an account. I am pretty anti social media for children and there is no way my ten year old or her 12-year-old sister are going anywhere near Facebook, but it is very hard.

I held off for a long time before I allowed my children to have Instagram and to admit that I wasn’t aware of the age limit on that and other social media networks.

But I was becoming responsible for my daughter becoming an outcast. Not only did all her friends in her year have Instagram, so did all her friends in the year below who are only nine.

Just saying ‘no’ as my husband would prefer we do, isn’t the answer. They are all so much more social media and computer savvy than we are that they will easily find away round it if they want. We have to face facts at some point our children are going to access social media. What we have to decide is whether they tell us about it or not. I decided that it was better to know what my children were up to on line. They are allowed Instagram, but we talk about it. We have an open dialogue and if I’m not happy I can check what they are doing. I may be naive but I do believe you have to trust them until they prove they are not trust worth.

It is shocking to hear another survey to coincide with Safer Internet Day which found that one in four teenagers had suffered hate abuse on line in the last year. A survey of 13 to 18-year-olds found 24 percent reported that they were targeted on the internet because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, disability or transgender identity. One in 25 said they are singled out for abuse “all or most of the time”.

These are scary statistics of a world I am unfamiliar with. All I can hope is that by keeping a dialogue open with my children about social media they will talk to me about anything that is worrying them so that I can keep them as safe as possible on line.