Do you know that you have to be at least 13 years old to have a Social media account? Well, my daughter knew it and it seemed like she was anxiously waiting to turn 13 to start her FB account. She came to me asking about it and my answer was “No, you cannot have a Social Media account until you turn 18.” My teenager took it graciously, she didn’t complain and was about to walk away when a memory flashed through my mind – what if my dad had said NO to my “Driving License,” when I turned 18, something that I was anxiously waiting for. I would have been heart-broken and would have definitely created a scene.

So I called her back, made her sit down and we talked –

Remember, Uncle Ben from the movie ‘Spiderman?’ – I asked

She said, “Yeah, he died, right?”

Yes, but there is a very famous quote by him in the movie, do you remember that?

She said “No.”

Well, Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker that “with great Power comes great Responsibility.” Social Media carries great power, you have to grow up and be a responsible adult to start using such powers.

She said “Yeah, OK” and walked away.

I know she was not convinced and I am not the kind who exerts my opinion on others; I knew I have to give her convincing answers. In my line of work, I deal with issues people, especially youngsters get in when they go online. But to talk to my daughter, I needed concrete data to support my points and I dug it out from the Internet.

And the data says…

  • Over half of adolescents have been bullied online or have engaged in cyberbullying.
  • More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online.
  • Over 25% of teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet.
  • Above 40% of the children who use the internet has seen inappropriate content online.
  • 1 in 12 have exchanged messages with sexual content with other people
  • 25% pretend to be older than they are to get an account.
  • There are approximately 270 million fake accounts on FB.

Despite a federal law that prohibits social media sites from collecting geolocation information, photographs or videos from users under the age of 13 without notifying and receiving consent from parents or guardians; there are millions of underage users who have accounts and maintain Facebook profiles. They do so by lying about their age, with or without the knowledge of their parents.

Today, we face 3 types of concerns – The ever increasing “Privacy concerns,” where our identity and data is subject to constant surveillance from all sides. The comes ‘Security concerns,” due to all the data about us that is publicly available, or private data being stolen. Finally “Literacy concerns,” with the arrival of social media, we have an onslaught of news and information more than what we could process. We have to update our “Media Literacy” skills, to remain on top of the news and information overflow and have to safeguard our kids from the same.

There is a big hole in ‘parental guidance’ when it comes to Internet issues; mainly due to 2 reasons… (1) The Optimism Bias, we all fall into this bias where we tell ourselves “This will not happen to me,” we are optimistic about ourselves and our loved ones, and lives in a false premise that nothing bad will happen to us. (2) We parents, ‘grew up’ into new technology and social media, but the current generation is ‘born’ into it. There is a major gap in our own understanding of these challenges since we did not face it ourselves as a child. The study shows that 16% of parents allow their children younger than 3 years to go online.

My daughter is coming to terms with the idea of not having a social media account until she turns 18, but she has peer pressure from friends. Her phone has a number pad, a small screen and no internet, I think she is ashamed to take it out in front of friends who has smartphones with touchscreens. She sometimes asks for a laptop to research for studies, but all she is getting is the family PC in the common area at home. And these are the rules at my family.

Where my Spiderman story ends, there started a new concept for a book. I went ahead and wrote a book – “The All-Seeing Digital Eyes,” where I have mentioned all the different kinds of threats that the “post-millennial” generation faces. The book is a guide to Privacy, Security and Literacy!

This is a must read book for parents of teens and pre-teens. This is a perfect gift for teens starting to use the internet. –

The book is available on free on Kindle Unlimited, Rs: 179 for Kindle eBook, Rs: 220 for the paperback.

This is a guest post by Neville J kattakayam who is the author of this must read book -The All-seeing digital eyes.







All statistics are collected online from iSAFE foundation and Netmums Polls.