Dear Otto: Should I stick with age limits on websites?

tech questions

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got from Leanne:

I am a Middle School teacher. Many of the teachers in my school want to use websites that state you need to be 13 or above. So far we have avoided them but as technology becomes more pervasive in our school and cooler and cooler websites become available, this is getting harder to stand by. How do you approach using websites that require 13 or above access?

Thank you, Leanne

And my answer:

What a great question. It is getting pervasive and kids are so comfortable on the internet, they find these sites and don’t understand the age restriction. Here’s what I do: I stick with the guidelines. It is too convoluted to get students to understand why it’s OK to break the rule in Case #1 and not in Case #2. Plus, parents don’t understand when our pedagogic judgment is it’s OK This Time and not That Time. It comes out as a subjective decision rather than an objective determination based on facts. As a result, I follow posted rules and find a different website that accomplishes what I need to.

Is there a particular website you’re trying to work around? Maybe I can help with that.

What I’d like to know from readers is: Do you stick with age limits? If not, why not? And how do yo explain it to students and parents? Please vote in the poll and/or scroll down to the comment section and share your thoughts. Thanks for your input!


Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Author: Jacqui
Welcome to my virtual classroom. I've been a tech teacher for 15 years, but modern technology offers more to get my ideas across to students than at any time in my career. Drop in to my class wikis, classroom blog, our internet start pages. I'll answer your questions about how to teach tech, what to teach when, where the best virtual sites are. Need more--let's chat about issues of importance in tech ed. Want to see what I'm doing today? Click the gravatar and select the grade.

2 thoughts on “Dear Otto: Should I stick with age limits on websites?

  1. Here’s an email comment I got from a reader:

    As the president of the association (union), I always tell my faculty to follow rules which are posted. If you do not, and get in “trouble” from doing so, there is no way to support what you did. We want students to follow the rules so we should as well.

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