Forming meaningful friendships is a vital part of growing up for most children. Friendships can help children develop good self-esteem, confidence and learn valuable social skills that they can use throughout their lifetime. Many children make friends with others who share similar interests; however, the friendships they form may not always be with others in their age group. An adult who has a comparable interest with an individual under the age of 18 may spend time a significant amount of time socializing with the minor.
Internet chat rooms and various social networking sites have made these social interactions more accessible and easier than ever before.
Carefully Consider the Age
Many social networks have an age restriction put into place that assists with monitoring minors and their use of the site. The age restriction on some sites may allow users 13 and older to register and use the features of the site with parental approval. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for children to be untruthful about their age. If the adult adds this child as a friend believing that the child is much older than they really are and discovers that they have been dishonest, it is the adult’s responsibility to end the friendship. Continuing the friendship may lead others to believe that child exploitation and inappropriate behavior may be taking place instead of an innocent friendship.
Many parents allow their teenagers to open an account on various social networking sites as a way to communicate with their friends. These parents will often open one in their own name to monitor their child’s activity. Parents may be asked to become friends with one of their children’s friends. Many people would not consider this a problem as it is a way to get involved in their children’s lives and know what type of friends they making.
Many people can question whether or not it is okay for an adult to add a friend’s young child. It may be acceptable for some; however, communication between the friends is essential. It may be more appropriate for the adult to ask their friend before they begin interacting with the friend’s child.
Most children are taught at a very young age not to talk to strangers. This same rule should still be implemented even with online chatting. Adults should be aware that talking to children they do not know online makes them strangers. Parents should be continuously involved with who their child is interacting with to keep their children as safe as possible.
There are many things that an adult and a child can have in common. Although two people who share the same interests can talk for long periods of time, adults should consider how others may look at the situation. In addition, an adult who makes friends with a child online and spends a significant amount of time talking to them may be proposed with the idea of meeting in person.
It is always the adult’s responsibility to end an inappropriate situation involving the minor. Many people may suggest that it is best to avoid any type of interaction that can lead to a potentially inappropriate situation. Denying a minor’s request to be friends can be done in a subtle but straightforward manner. A simple explanation regarding how the adult feels about socializing with children they do not know may be sufficient enough for the minor to understand.
I do not think very safe to leave children free on social networks. I believe a site where they have contact only with people of the same age is healthier.