As I prepare for Friday's Girls Make It Event at the Generator, I'm trying to think of the best way to talk to girls under 13 about social media. Most social media sites do not allow children under 13 to participate in order to comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Yet we know that many students under 13 are involved with social media in both healthy and unhealthy ways.
There are many many great resources out there, such as Common Sense Media, that focus on online privacy appropriate use of today's technology, including social media sites.
My challenge was to give girls the message about how important it is for girls to be 'in the picture' of tech-savvy users of computers, and also help them understand how to use social media safely.
So I thought I'd share the story of some amazing outcomes that can happen when we leverage social media in a safe way. In an earlier blog I shared the story of Sierra, a 10 year old girl, who became involved with the eNable community and ended up building a real 3D printed hand for her 5th grade science project with help from mentors the eNable Community. But there's more to this story.
Sierra, discovered eNable because the founder of the eNable community, Jon Schull's actively participates in social media, and showed up in a online social event (Google Hangout Out or Air) about 3D printed in education that I organized. The eNable community itself is very active with social media to support its goals of matching people with 3D printers with people who need fingers and hands.
Sierra's interest in 3D printing has expanded to include her sister, Sage. And through the use of social media Sierra and Sage were able to crowd fund a 3D printer to continue learning and helping others. Check out the rest of their story here.
The key to their safe use of social media was that Sierra and Sage were working with adults in their lives to move their goals forward. If your use of social media is under the supervision of trusted adults (teachers, parents, mentors), then there is a good chance that your use is safe and appropriate.
The law does not say children under 13 can't use social media. No.. the law says that organizations are not allowed to collect information about children under 13 without parental permission. That makes perfect sense. There are many things in life that you would NOT want kids to participate in without parental supervision. My grandson has been skiing since he was 3, but not without parents making sure he was safely equipped and was was getting the skills to ski safely.
So ladies, make sure that the trusted adults in your life are involved in your use of social media. Your parent's permission is the first step, but also involve your parents in your daily use of social media and have frequent discussion about the power that social media, along with its challenges.