What age should children be allowed on social media?

Image generated using AI. Prompted by Marcus Moloko

The question of social media and children runs a lot deeper than just granting internet access to minors.

It is the overall or long term impact that is the issue and tracking long term impact of a cause will always be a challenge for psychotherapists and other experts.

While many parents could argue for and against the age of online and social media access, experts have highlighted key points that should be noteworthy enough for any parent to factor into their parenting strategy.

Research suggests that the older the child is the better they can process and tackle online or social media pressure.

Key factors are:

Children should be at a critical thinking age, and that’s around if not just over the age of 13 years old. This is for a number of reasons.

Note: This is not advice to parents, this is to argue the age at which to grant a minor access to social media.

Brain development

Children under 13 are still developing their critical thinking skills and may struggle to navigate the complexities of online interactions, including cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content, and privacy concerns.


The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the US sets 13 as the minimum age for social media platforms to collect data on users. This reflects recognition of the need to protect younger children’s privacy online.

Expert Opinions

Many child development experts and organizations recommend waiting until middle or even late teens before allowing unrestricted social media access, citing potential negative impacts on self-esteem, body image, and sleep patterns.
While the minimum age might be 13, it’s crucial to consider additional factors:

Individual Maturity

Some children may possess the necessary maturity to handle social media responsibly before 13, while others might need more time.

Even after the minimum age, parental involvement is crucial.

Open communication, clear rules, and monitoring of online activity are essential to ensure safe and responsible social media use.

Alternative Platforms: Consider age-appropriate platforms designed for younger audiences with stricter safety measures and content moderation.

A clear-cut age limit might not be the most effective approach. Instead, focusing on a child’s individual maturity level, implementing parental controls and open communication, and potentially starting with safer, age-appropriate platforms can create a more responsible introduction to the world of social media.

Also read: Google’s support for SA election integrity



Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights. sign up

Welcome to Memeburn

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest in digital insights.