By in Family

Children going online

AT WHAT AGE should a child be allowed access to the internet? I'm asking because our grand-daughter, Ruby, (aged 8) has just been given her mum's old laptop and is now online.

She has a full Google account with Gmail and all the other bits and pieces which go with a Google account. There are, of course, various explicit content filters on the laptop which should block most dubious content from a Google search or a YouTube search (YouTube is owned by Google).

However, no filter is 100% effective and there is always the possibility that a particular search term will turn up some adult content - not necessarily pornography but medical terms and explicit images and explanations.

Is an eight-year-old ready for this? On the other hand how likely is an eight-year-old to go searching for anything even remotely adult-related? Ruby is more interested in LOL Dolls than the reproductive processes of the human race - although she does know where babies come from (she has a little brother).

She is much more likely to search for things such as 'The Adventures of the LOL Dolls' or 'How to make your own PlayDough' than anything she shouldn't be viewing. Mum will, of course, monitor her usage closely but Mum can't hover over her 24/7 and, even though Ruby is unlikely to search for dubious content she will inevitably come across some at some time.

And, as time goes by, the likelihood that her curiousity will get the better of her increases but this is a danger all parents must consider and find their own solutions to. Ruby has not yet asked to go on Facebook (and Mum would not yet allow her to do so) but that day will come.

Anyone who is on Facebook will know that there is some very upsetting and explicit content and language there but did you know that the minimum age at which Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest and many other sites will allow an account is just 13-years-old?

I do realise that the line has to be drawn somewhere but 13 is, in my opinion, a little early. It should be at least the age of consent which in the UK is 16.

How say you?

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MegL wrote on June 3, 2018, 5:39 PM

It's worrying, I agree. A full Google account can only be obtained if the person is at least 13 years old. So presumably, Ruby's Mum has massaged her daughter's date of birth by 5 years. Google will protect her (somewhat) but once they think she is 18, she will be able to do anything any other adult can do, except she will really only be 13. So in 5 years time, maybe that account will need to be modified to keep her safe. Many schools expect children to be able to access the internet for homework and it has its positive points. It's the phones that worry me more than the internet, there is no filter on those. Online games on phones or computers also need to be watched VERY closely, in case of "trolls". I created this some years ago:

Kasman wrote on June 3, 2018, 7:30 PM

It was actually myself who set up Ruby's account and Google didn't ask for a date of birth. I don't think age really has much to do with it and, as you say, it's easy to 'massage' the facts anyway. What is more important is that youngsters shouldn't come across content which is inappropriate for their age but that is really a decision for the parents - at what age is it appropriate to access 'adult content'? I think that depends on the child. As I say in this post 13 is the age at which most social media platforms will accept a new account but, considering what can be found online, I think that is too young. Parents today are faced with a very difficult decision: 'At what age should I let my child go online?'. Mind you, many youngsters today are (or will be) far more tech-savvy than their parents and, with a little exploration, will be able to disable any filters their parents put in place. When a youngster reaches that stage then all bets are off!

Last Edited: June 3, 2018, 7:32 PM

lookatdesktop wrote on June 3, 2018, 8:12 PM

I think the browser, Internet Explorer, comes with a filter setting that allows different levels of content and can be tailored to suite the needs of an 8 year old or 13 year old, for that matter. Here is a link I think you will appreciate. From a website called Media Smarts:

VinceSummers wrote on June 3, 2018, 9:16 PM

It is wise to supervise. I recall a woman who was into politics and she tried to look at a site she thought was related to the "White House". It was a male strip site. Don't imagine for a moment that all such trash is filtered out.

MegL wrote on June 4, 2018, 3:29 AM

Yes. Years ago, I was looking for some content for small children, specifically A.A. Milne's stories about the bear, "Winnie the Pooh". The content of the site was aimed at children alright but not in the way that a parent or grandparent would want them to see! I think there are possibly more filters in place these days but as you say, not everything will be caught. Some of the games online that are aimed at children have chat sites and not all of those are monitored for appropriate content. Children need to be warned NEVER to release any information about themselves.

melody23 wrote on June 4, 2018, 4:12 PM

its very difficult today I think. I am of the generation where the internet was just becoming a thing when I was 12 or 13 - I was online at home with no one tech-savvy enough to know what I was doing in the house. Now what I was doing was spending a lot of time in chat rooms because that's what teenagers did on the internet in the days before social media. Yes I pretended to be older than I was and yes I got the odd inappropriate message here and there, there is unfortunately very little you can do to protect people from those, apart from ensuring they know how to block these people from being able to get in contact in the future and making sure they cant access your info. What I had in my favour though was a healthy fear of the internet, a fear of giving away too much information, a fear of what could happen. I would never have given away details of where I lived (I would say the nearest city at the most) or my phone number or anything like that. I think the problem for young people today is that its all so normal now that the fear is gone, its so normal to have all these personal details about yourself online and that's what would really worry me if I was a parent. That would worry me far more than inappropriate content if I'm honest. Inappropriate content has always been around, it was pictures in the playground and now its online it may be easier to find now but its always been there.

Kasman wrote on June 5, 2018, 4:50 PM

Today's youngsters don't use the internet as we are using it here (blogging). They are far more likely to use it as a way of keeping in touch with their peers and, as you point out, that is where the danger lies. Ruby does not have access to any of the social media sites and has been given online access as part of the learning process - the internet can be an incredibly useful tool for that. In due course she will join the social media and it will up to her parents to educate her on how to use them. Many young people today know more about computers than their parents ever will and are able to hide their social interactions from their parents (not this grandad though - I have made it my business to find out how the damn things work!). Your point about inappropriate content always having been available is a good one (in my day it was 'Playboy' magazine behind the bike sheds at school!). In the fullness of time all young people will gain access to the complete adult world for better or worse. How they handle it will depend on how they have been educated to handle it and that includes both online and offline. Parents have a huge responsibility here but in the end it's up to emerging adults to decide for themselves how to proceed. We can only point the way.

kyntoxicity wrote on June 5, 2018, 9:30 PM

I'm also worry to my nephews, nieces or soon to be my children, that in this generation of kids are capable of using gadgets before they know how to read and can accidentally open an adult content because of spam or ads of a certain site/app. I'm hoping soonest, app developers of FB, TWITTER, IG and so on, will have this version like of YOUTUBE KIDS that is safer and simpler for kids to explore the world online.

Kasman wrote on June 6, 2018, 6:05 PM

YouTube Kids is already pre-figured with parental filters available and contains curated content but is far from perfect (read this: It isn't the only children-orientated YouTube app and in my opinion there is little to choose between any of these apps and full access to YouTube (with suitable filters in place, of course). The big advantage these apps have is because the content is curated (selected) it is unlikely that inappropriate content will leak through and yet that has happened . The bottom line is that no filter can be 100% effective and children who spend time anywhere on the internet are liable to see inappropriate content. We as parents (and grandparents) can only be vigilant over our childrens' use of the internet.

DanieGirl8587 wrote on June 29, 2018, 12:49 PM

Eight I feel is too young...
So many disgusting people and images on the web these days. I understand you can put blockers on computers these days, but kids are smart and usually maneuver their way around them.
I feel that at that age maybe they can use the web in front of adults, but not alone or in their room with the door shut.
Fourteen-fifteen is the age limit for me.