[Editor’s note: To participate in future queries, keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook accounts.]

Facebook currently requires users to be 13 years old to sign up for the site. Twitter used to also have a minimum age requirement of 13. That changed in 2009 when Twitter removed the requirement. However, in January, The Guardian reported Simon Milner, the director of policy for Facebook UK and Ireland, admitted at the Oxford Media Convention there was no way to stop those 12 and younger from simply lying about their age. "We haven't got a mechanism for eradicating the problem [of underage users]," Milner said. So, we wanted to know: “At what age, if any, should be the minimum for children to join and use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Why?”

Your answers

“Depends on how mature the child is. My wife and I personally are [going to] let our son on at probably 16.” — Charles M. Pitner

“Never! Its a trap. Don’t let them get sucked in!” — Nate Turnpaugh

“Ha! I've had friend requests on Facebook from 6 year olds! Needless to say, I have earned the honor of "Meanest Mom in the World" because I won't let my daughter on until she's 13.” — Lisa Hoover Schell

Our answers

“I'm probably old fashioned, but children shouldn't be allowed on social media until they reach high school and the sites should be closely monitored by an adult for inappropriate posting. There are too many predators out there surfing social media looking for vulnerable young people. We hear about examples of it every day.” — Ken de la Bastide

“I would say the minimum age should be 16. I don't think they need to be on social media sites at a young age. They need to experience face to face interaction first to develop the social skills that they will need throughout their lives. The Internet tends to suck you in to the point where you aren't dealing with people in person anymore.” — Charlene Woodruff

“As comedian David Cross once said, ‘I’ve decided that I’m going to raise my kids to be Amish.’ I’m not personally going to be Amish, but they will be. Seriously, though, I can’t see how social media could be anything but detrimental to children. Besides the obvious worries about bullying and predators, there’s children’s understanding of the nature of reality to consider. I feel somewhat lucky to have lived most of my childhood without the Internet. I was bored a lot more often in my youth than I might otherwise have been, but I guarantee I got more reading done. And now as an adult I feel like I’m able to put things like Facebook and Twitter in their proper contexts easier than if I had only known a world of complete interconnectivity. Children need boredom. That’s how imagination develops.” — Rob Burgess

Rob Burgess, Tribune night editor, may be reached by calling 765-454-8577, via email at rob.burgess@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at twitter.com/robaburg.

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