A Consumer Reports study revealed that last year, 78 percent of parents helped create their kids’ Facebook pages, and 7.5 million users were younger than 13, the minimum age requirement for having an account. Amy Jo Martin, CEO of social media strategy and education company Digital Royalty, recently invited some third-graders to her office and discovered that not only did more than half of them have accounts, some had switched to Instagram or set up separate Facebook accounts that their parents didn’t know about. While for some adults this may seem scary, Martin suggests it doesn’t need to be.
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Martin says, “[P]arents and educators need to think long term and recognize that kids are building a personal brand from an early age….Social media will help connect them with like-minded individuals, including mentors, that share similar interests and aspirations that can help them achieve their long-term goals.” With universities and businesses already using social media profiles when considering candidates for admission or employment, one can only imagine what a third-grader’s online footprint could look like a decade from now. For that reason, Martin recommends that parents find out exactly how proficient their kids are, and then teach them how to manage their online presence for maximum benefit.