What should be the minimum age for children in social media?

In today’s digital age, social media platforms have become an integral part of our lives. From connecting with friends and family to accessing a vast array of information, these platforms offer numerous benefits. However, when it comes to children and adolescents, the question arises: What should be the minimum age for children to join social media?

One crucial fact that needs to be considered is the development of the brain. Research has shown that the prefrontal cortex, responsible for impulse control and decision-making, doesn’t fully develop until around age 25. On the other hand, the brain’s rewards and emotion centers get revved up well before that, during puberty. This developmental mismatch explains why teenagers are more prone to taking risks and reacting with emotional extremes to situations that adults would likely handle with more caution.

Considering this scientific insight, it becomes essential to evaluate the potential risks and benefits of allowing children access to social media at a young age. On one hand, social media can offer educational opportunities, promote creativity, and facilitate social interactions. It can also help children develop digital literacy skills necessary for the modern world. However, on the other hand, there are significant concerns related to privacy, cyberbullying, online predators, and the potential impact on mental health.

Several social media platforms have already established a minimum age requirement, often set at 13 years old. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the United States also sets 13 as the minimum age for certain data collection practices on online platforms. This age restriction is based on the assumption that children at this stage have a better understanding of online safety and can navigate the digital landscape with some level of responsibility.

However, there is an ongoing debate about whether 13 is an appropriate minimum age. Critics argue that even at 13, children may not possess the necessary maturity and judgment to handle the potential risks associated with social media. They believe that raising the minimum age would provide children with more time to develop essential life skills, emotional intelligence, and a better understanding of the consequences of their actions online.

So, what should be the minimum age for children in social media? It is a complex question with no easy answer. Different countries and organizations have taken various approaches to address this issue. Some propose the introduction of digital citizenship education in schools to equip children with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate the online world responsibly. Others argue for stricter regulations and enhanced privacy protections to safeguard children’s well-being.

Ultimately, determining the minimum age for children in social media requires a balanced approach that considers the developmental stage of children’s brains, the potential benefits and risks, and the need for comprehensive education and support systems. It is a collective responsibility of parents, educators, policymakers, and the society as a whole to ensure that children can safely and responsibly engage with social media platforms when they are developmentally ready.

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, ongoing research and dialogue will play a crucial role in shaping policies and guidelines regarding children’s participation in social media. Striking the right balance between empowering children and protecting their well-being is essential to foster a healthy and responsible digital environment for the next generation.

What to Do If Your Child’s iPhone Got Lost or Stolen?

Losing a valuable item like an iPhone can be a distressing experience, especially when it belongs to your child. As a parent, it’s natural to worry about the potential consequences of a lost iPhone, such as unauthorized access to personal information or the loss of important data. However, it’s crucial to remain calm and take immediate action to increase the chances of recovering the device or protecting your child’s privacy. In this blog post, we will discuss the essential steps you should take if your child’s iPhone goes missing.

1. Stay Calm and Assess the Situation:

Panicking will not help the situation. Take a moment to gather your thoughts and assess the circumstances surrounding the loss. Ask your child when they last had the iPhone and if they remember any specific details that might assist in locating it. Remaining calm will enable you to think clearly and take appropriate actions.

2. Use the ‘Find My’ App:

Apple provides a powerful tool called the “Find My” app that can be used to track lost or stolen iPhones. Access this app on any other Apple device or use the iCloud website through a computer browser. Sign in with your child’s Apple ID and password and select the “Find iPhone” option. From there, you can view the device’s location on a map, play a sound to help locate it, lock the iPhone remotely, or even erase its contents to protect sensitive information.

3. Inform the School and Other Relevant Parties:

If your child’s iPhone was lost or misplaced at school or during extracurricular activities, inform the relevant authorities, such as the school administration or activity organizers. They may have a lost and found department where the device could potentially be turned in. Providing them with all the necessary details can help in the search process.

4. Report the Loss:

Contact your local law enforcement agency to report the lost iPhone. Provide them with any relevant information, such as the device’s serial number, IMEI number (found on the original box or in the device settings), and a description of the device. While the chances of immediate recovery may be very low, having an official record can be helpful to protect your family if the stolen iPhone is used for illegal activities.

5. Inform the Mobile Service Provider:

Reach out to your child’s mobile service provider, inform them about the lost iPhone and request to deactivate the SIM card. They can help suspend or deactivate the device temporarily, preventing unauthorized use or changes to the account. Additionally, they might be able to assist you with tracking the phone or providing information on insurance or warranty coverage for lost or stolen devices.

6. Consider Remote Data Erasure:

If you are concerned about the sensitive information stored on your child’s iPhone falling into the wrong hands, and you have been unable to locate or recover the device, you may consider remotely erasing the data. This action will restore the iPhone to its factory settings and wipe out all personal information. 

To erase the phone remotely: Login to icloud.com and click “Find Devices”, then select the stolen device. Click Erase iPhone to wipe all of the phone’s data remotely.

7. Change Passwords and Enable Two-Factor Authentication:

Encourage your child to change their Apple ID and other important passwords associated with the lost iPhone. This step will prevent unauthorized access to personal accounts, emails, social media, and other sensitive information. Enabling two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security and ensures that even if someone has the device, they won’t be able to access your child’s accounts without a verification code.

8. Educate Your Child about Security Measures:

Use this incident as an opportunity to discuss the importance of responsible phone usage and the need to take precautions. Teach your child about the “Find My” app and other security features, such as setting strong passwords, using biometric authentication, and avoiding suspicious links or downloads. Emphasize the significance of reporting any loss or theft immediately to minimize the risks involved.

9. Take Preventive Measures:

To minimize the risk of losing a device in the future, take preventive measures. Set up strong passwords or biometric authentication methods on the iPhone to protect sensitive data. Encourage your child to be responsible for their belongings and emphasize the importance of keeping track of their device. 

Screen protector: To prevent thieves watching you typing the phone password, consider using a screen protector with a privacy filter.

Parental control: If you apply Screen Time parental controls to your child’s iPhone, a thief who gets your iPhone passcode would need a second passcode to change phone account. In Settings, go to Screen Time and scroll down to set a passcode (one different from iPhone’s). Then tap Content & Privacy Restrictions, enable that and scroll down to the Allow Changes section. Choose “Don’t Allow” for passcode, account and cellular data.

Hide sensitive information: Some thieves have opened credit cards using victims’ Social Security information, which was found on the phone. Search the Notes and Photos apps and remove any sensitive data, such as photos of the passport. 

Set debit-card limits: Thieves have linked debit cards stored in Apple Pay to Apple Cash to drain financial accounts. If your child has a debit card stored in Apple Pay, call your bank to lower the debit card’s daily purchase and withdrawal limits. 


Losing a child’s iPhone can be a distressing experience, but it’s important to stay calm and take immediate action. Utilize tools like the “Find My” app to track the phone, report the loss to the authorities and the service provider, change passwords, and educate your child about security measures. By following these steps, you can increase the chances of recovering the device or protecting your child’s privacy. Remember, it’s essential to prioritize your child’s safety and well-being throughout this process.

When the children have suicidal thoughts

Losing a child is an unthinkable tragedy for the parents. What if that tragedy can be prevented?

Children are more stressed than ever. As if the damage done by social media is not enough, pandemic wreaked havoc in the last two years. Teenagers and young adults are more depressed. Mean weekly emergency-department visits for suspected suicide attempts rose 50.6% among 12-to-17-year-old girls in the month ended March 20, 2021, compared with the same period in 2019, according to CDC data. Among boys, those visits increased by 3.7%. Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental health outcomes, increased substance use, and elevated suicidal ideation.

In 2019, 18.8% of high-school students said they seriously considered attempting suicide, while 15.7% made a suicide plan and 8.9% made an attempt, according to a separate CDC survey. By comparison, 13.8% of high-schoolers reported considering suicide attempts in 2009. It’s scary to read the research report that shows one-third of people who think about suicide will make an attempt. (Source: Wall Street Journal)

Source: CDC

If you are a parent, it’s prudent to pay more attention to children’s verbal and non-verbal cues and take any suicide threat seriously. Warning signs to take seriously include increased alcohol or drug use, withdrawing from usual activities, changes in sleep patterns, and other behavior shifts, says Christine Moutier, chief medical officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. For teens, problems in relationships such as a breakup, arguments with parents, or conflicts with peers can trigger suicidal thoughts and attempts, says Regina Miranda, a Hunter College psychology professor studying patterns of suicidal thinking in high-risk adolescents.

If you are concerned about your children, have an open and honest conversation with them. Talk to them about how you overcome your own struggles. Don’t lecture them, but try to help them in a genuine way. They need you more than ever. When the kid wants to take his/her own life, giving hope and unconditional love and sincere care make a world of difference.

Audio book won 3rd prize!

“Tell My Dad” audio book won 3rd prize in San Mateo County Fair Literary Contest!

It’s nice to hear my characters come to life through the audio book. Getting an award for it is an icing on the cake! I am very proud of this accomplishment. To celebrate this milestone, I am giving away 3 free copies of my audio book. If you are interested, please send me a message through Facebook fan page.

Please click the play button above to listen to the first chapter of the book. More soundtracks are available on SoundCloud. If you like what you hear, please support my work at Audible.

Related Link: Audio book is released today!

Facebook Ad Fraud

As a new author, I tried various marketing avenues to promote my book “Tell My Dad“. I have used Facebook advertising for many years to promote a couple of websites I manage. I used Facebook ads to promote the book’s fan page. For every ad I ran, I received thousands of likes, but very few people clicked on the link to go to Amazon page. Who would “like” the page without even checking out the article/post in the ad? This was a big mystery. I had long suspected that either Facebook was committing fraud or indirectly encouraged folks who inflated the likes just for the sake of it. I am not alone. Check out the video by Veritasium.


The data presented by Derek confirmed my suspicion. After losing $100+ in Facebook ads, I cut my losses and stopped my ads in Facebook. I will write a separate post on my marketing efforts on other platforms.

In a related news, Facebook confirmed (and apologized) that it overestimated key video metric for two years. Many authors, including myself, are clueless when it comes to marketing. This kind of incidents and frauds make us lose the confidence in the system.

Audio book is released today!

I am excited to announce the release of “Tell My Dad” audio book in Audible, Amazon and iTunes! It’s narrated by very talented Brian Troxell. Creating an audio book is an expensive proposition for authors, but I wanted to do it because it’s the best way to bring the characters to life. It’s also the best way to connect with the readers.

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I used ACX to hire the narrator and to produce the audio book. The process goes like this: You sign up for ACX, post a sample chapter to get audition from interested narrators, short list the auditions and select one narrator. The narrator records your books, then ACX does quality check, then the book is released to the world. In few weeks, everyone will rush to buy your book and… you will become a millionaire.

Well, the process is not that simple. Every step of the way takes a lot of time, effort and hard work. “How it works” page in ACX explain a lot better than I can explain. I will stick to my lessons learned in the process.

When you post a sample chapter, make sure the chapter covers all the main characters. If you post more than few pages, it would discourage narrators to audition for it. Keep the sample script within 3 pages.

Be prepared to be overwhelmed by many fabulous narrators. Expect to spend at least few hours a day for two weeks to listen and short-list the narrators.

Short list the narrators based on the voice, audio quality, hourly fee, and how well the narrator brings your characters to life. When I short-listed the narrators, I was specifically listening for how well the narrator changes the voice to give the life to the characters of Protagonist, FBI agent character, Cops, FBI intern, and Children. It’s not easy for someone to talk like a 40 year old guy, then switch to a 5 year old girl, then switch to a 50 year old FBI agent, then switch to a 70 year old villain. Few people have the gift to narrate like that. Brian is one of them.

After short-listing few narrators, listen to each one of them again, ask for feedback from friends and family, then choose one narrator that is best-suited to your book. Once the selection is made, the narrator has about one week to prepare the first 15 minutes for your approval. If you are happy with first 15 minutes, the narrator goes on to record the entire book. When the entire book is released, the narrator sends that to you, the author. If you approve the audio book and make the payment to the narrator, ACX will take the audio files and run thru its quality process. That could take anywhere from 4 to 5 days. Once the quality is verified, ACX will prepare your title. This is where things get tricky. At this stage, ACX page shows “headed to retail” as the status for your book project. This status will stare at you for the next 4+ days. During this time frame, ACX folks prepare the meta data for each retailer (Audible, Amazon and iTunes) and send the book to retail stores. Once the book is out of ACX’s hand, it has no idea about the status. This is why you would continue to see “headed to retail” until the book is actually released. ACX claims that it has no insights into the internal process of retail stores.

Once the retail stores accept the audio book, it goes live! I submitted my audio book on June 18th. It passed quality check by June 23rd. At this point, the book’s status was changed to “headed to retail”. The book is available today, June 28th, in Audible, Amazon and iTunes. Turnaround is not so bad, but it would have been nice if retail stores and ACX work together to provide frequent updates to the authors rather than keeping them in the dark when the book is “headed to retail”.

Stopping Human Trafficking Using Technology

There are few times I go like “Why didn’t I think of that?”, when I see a new mobile app. I got one of those moments when I saw “TraffickCam” mobile app which is available for both iOS and Android. The app uses crowdsourcing to stop the human trafficking.

What is human trafficking? It’s a modern day slavery.

Source: Unicef
Source: UNICEF

There it is, from UNICEF.

I wrote a non-fiction for the parents who are not technically-savvy to deal with many issues seriously worsened by the Internet. Human trafficking is one of those issues. The criminals use the Internet to kidnap and sell the children who have to go through unimaginable torture. More than 300,000 American children and about 1.2 million children worldwide are trafficked each year. Most of these children are aged between 12 and 14. “TraffickCam” app will help to catch the criminals if all of us work together.

Traffickers regularly post the pictures of their victims posed in hotel rooms for online advertisements. Yes, that’s happening more often than you think. There are websites right here in the United States that do it. “TraffickCam” app asks all the users to take the pictures of hotel rooms they stay in when they travel. When many travelers do this, that essentially creates a huge database of the images of various hotel rooms across U.S. and also the globe. This database can be used by law enforcement investigators to track the hotel room in which the children are locked up by the perpetrators. The app helps the investigators by analyzing the patterns of the carpet, furniture, lighting, windows, walls, etc., in the hotel rooms’ images and compare it with the images posted by the traffickers in the underground websites.

The app is free. Please download it and take the picture of hotel rooms when you travel next time.

Where to find the good cover designers for your book?

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” — We heard this over and over. But, if the cover is not attractive or does not convey the message, the book does not have appeal to the readers.

For my debut fiction novel “Tell My Dad“, I spent a good amount of time searching for the cover designers. I wanted the best possible design. After doing research for weeks, I decided to launch a contest in 99designs. Why a contest? First of all, I did not want to hire a designer just by looking at online reviews and ratings. Second, I wanted to see the designer’s creativity for my specific requirements. Third, I wanted to crowdsource the design selection process. All of these are possible in the contest.

99 designs will ask you to prepare the list of requirements and the design concept. Mine looked like one below.

I want a book cover design for a book I’m writing called “Tell My Dad”.

It’s a mystery/thriller book. It’s a story revolving around child abductions and affected families. I want the element of suspense on the cover. I want to picture the crucial scene of the book, described below, in the cover.A bad guy kidnaps five year old girl and lock her up in the backseat of the car and drives away. The girl, with fear and confusion in her face, looks thru the window while the car is speeding up.

For the above scene, I want the girl to look thru the fogged window. Title is written on the fog as if the girl wrote it.

My main goals are:

1. To show the title in child’s handwriting style
2. To let the reader instinctively feel the thriller element

There it is. I posted the requirements and announced $300 bounty for the best design. I received about 89 designs over 4 weeks period. I short-listed 10 designs, created a poll and invited friends and family to vote for the best design. 99designs have the feature to create a poll which was useful. The poll gave me a pretty good idea about how others feel about the design. An overwhelming majority voted for the below design.

"Tell My Dad" book cover

It’s designed by Denis Lenzi. I am very satisfied with the final design and revision process that went with it.

If you are on a budget, you may want to check out the designers in fiverr. I wrote a non-fiction ebook “How to protect children from online predators and cyber bullies” which I am giving away for free. I could not afford $300 for the perma-free book. I looked through the profiles of various designers in fiverr and had chosen one. My experience in fiverr is hit and miss. Fortunately, the cover design came out well. I wanted a simple design with attractive colors and fonts. I provided some sample pictures and ideas to the designer who came up with the following design.


I think it’s a pretty good design for $5.

In summary, I believe that the contest in 99designs offers the best possibility to create the wonderful cover design. Please share your experiences in finding a good cover designer.