Social media networks have been dominating the news in recent times. We regularly hear about social media concerns for tweens, chilling stories about harassment and bullying via Facebook, even the recent death of Bin Laden, which was tweeted prior to an official announcement.

According to a new survey of 1,000 U.S. adults by Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project, the number of children aged 10-12 years old who have a Facebook or MySpace account doubled from 2009-2010.

Whilst some parents may be concerned with the affects of allowing their young children to actively participate on such sites, it is difficult to stop tweens using such networks when older siblings and parents themselves are active users.

According to the survey, 17% of parents didn’t see a problem with younger children using the sites, and 11% said they had helped their children create accounts on these sites, clearly overlooking Facebook’s policy prohibiting those aged less than 13 years joining the site.

Why the age limit? Well, several other studies have suggested that over users (those tweens who spend more than 3 hours a day using social media) have an increased risk of trying cigarettes, alcohol, binge drinking, and physical fighting which leads to a negative impact on school grades.

Such statistics are likely to cause any parent to raise their eyebrow with concern. Is Facebook correct in prohibiting young users, or are we overly paranoid about the social media risks and should be more concerned about many troubling issues, which face kids in normal society?

At least tweens can hit back with the knowledge that they probably knew that Bin Laden had been killed at least one hour before their parents and teachers had a chance to watch the nightly news.

One tweet wherever it started, was retweeted by thousands of others, and it was one hour before the President of the United States confirmed what was already known.

Everything we know about breaking news has changed and it may just serve the tweens quite well. Does social media have a bad impact on young impressionable minds…well time is sure to tell. In the meantime, be sure to check your tweens are doing their homework!

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