Every wonder what the age restrictions are for the top social media sites in the world? Surely, these sites, which often host sensitive content and conversations, are all 18+, right? Think again. Most of them are essentially targeted to eighth graders, ages 13 and up. Why 13? The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was established to product children’s information and has deemed that an appropriate age for collecting data, but it seems pretty young for someone who could very easily find a slew of inappropriate content in a matter of seconds on these sites.
Officially, Twitter says you must be older than 13 years of age to sign up for the service. Though while the service says you must be 13 or older, there are no age qualifications during the signup process. Twitter suggests you contact firstname.lastname@example.org if your child is under 13 and using the site. Oh, and good luck trying to find any material from Twitter highlighting the age restriction.
Facebook at least has a help page outlining the age requirement and what people should do if they find someone underage. Still, like Twitter, the age requirement is just 13 years of age. However, the difference between Facebook and Twitter is that Facebook requires you enter your birthday as part of the signup process. While not full proof, this can help deter underage users. Facebook also conveniently adds that if false information is used during the signup process, like a misleading birth date, it’s grounds for the account being deleted.
Not surprisingly, since Instagram is owned by Facebook, the age restriction is the same – 13+ years old. Even more, the Instagram wording is pretty much exactly the same as Facebook. Copy and paste strikes again.
Surprise, surprise! It’s lucky number 13. Snapchat also doesn’t allow any users under the age of 13. However, the service interestingly states that if you’re between the ages of 13 and 17 that your guardians must have reviewed and approved of the terms of service before use. I venture to guess that probably ZERO kids between those ages have actually asked their parents to review Snapchat before using.
Interestingly, the one site which probably has the fewest younger users has a more complicated user age guidelines. For those in the United States, you must be 14 years of age. I’m not sure why 14 other than perhaps because LinkedIn targets professionals, that’s the starting age in most states to begin work with a permit. Other countries, however, have different age requirements. China? 18 years old. Netherlands? 16 years old. Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia, and South Korea? They join the USA at 14 years old. All others users can be the usual 13+.
Social Times has a great infographic with a bunch of social media sites and their age requirements for additional review. While this resource may have come out a year ago, the information it outlines is still true today.