Kaya Geha, Grade 10, GEMS Dubai American Academy
It’s illegal for commercial websites and apps to permit children under the age of 13 to create an online account without verifiable parental permission.
Still, this law is rarely implemented. And most children are easily able to get around this rule by adopting a fake e-mail and changing their date of birth.
This, I felt, was important to mention, because many parents don’t know that their kids are utilising these apps.
Fortunately, when a child is under the age of nine, they still obey their parents but once they pass this age, there is more resistance, as psychologist Dr Carl Pickard’s research suggests.
Another thing to consider before letting a child use social apps is his or her cognitive development.
This is primarily linked to maturity and ability to handle social media platforms. Research suggests that receiving likes on social media outlets (like Instagram) has been connected to the brain’s reward system and results in the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
For a young child to be exposed to so much dopamine is exceptionally unhealthy and universally seen as dangerous, yet many parents happily let children use social media when it is clearly too much for most to handle.
Psychologists not only think that excessive dopamine is harmful to children but many theories and experiments also suggest that kids aged 7 to 11 lack the ability to consider hypothetical situations.
Lisa Strohman, the founder of the Technology Wellness Center in Dubai supports this theory saying: “An 8-year-old girl posting a video about how to do her hair is just thinking, ‘My friends will see this and it will be great!’ She can’t take that next step and think about who else might watch that video and write mean comments”.
These, among others, are reasons as to why I personally would steer clear from allowing my children to use social media at such a young age.
As they begin to develop cognitively, they can decide for themselves whether they would like to use social media platforms but until then, I don’t see it right or proper to expose young kids to the world on the web and excessive dopamine.
My 3 favourite places in Dubai:
Ski Dubai: A Dubai tour is incomplete without a visit to this compelling ski resort.
Desert Safari: The rush of the speedy mountain bikes and camel rides.
Wild Wadi: The world’s best-themed water parks.