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I have been noticing a large number of kids, usually about twelve, who keep trying to ask questions on the writing SE. They get shut down, and they should, because that's the rule. But there is nothing to stop kids from under thirteen from viewing the site.

  • I hate to see what is clearly a swelling of interest in writing get shut down because of what is usually a one-year difference. As a Dad, I'd go nuts if my kids showed an interest in writing voluntarily. Is the 13 year age limit a standard across the entire SE, or can individual SE's have their own age limits based on the appropriateness of the material? I know kids can get on with the supervision of their parents, but I don't entirely follow how we recognize if parents ARE supervising. I know how hard it is to keep my kids OFF the internet (somewhere between impossible and virtually). Especially in COVID-land, where writing material looks essentially like homework. I would vote to lower it to twelve (if that were an option), not because they have great questions, but because this is a relatively safe topic and something educational. That, and we need more future GOOD question askers/answerers.
  • Barring a shift in the age range, Do/should we have a list of writing resources we can direct underage readers to that are considered age-appropriate to answer their questions? It seems less than responsible to just say "Well, you can't ask here, so just start exploring the wild internet on your own and see what comes up." There may already BE such a list, and if so, let me know where it is. But the internet is like perpetually shifting sand for this kind of thing, and is it up to date?
  • Can/do we have a tag that specifically marks a question as appropriate for a certain age group? There are questions and answers I wouldn't want a fifteen or sixteen year-old to read, let alone a twelve year old. There are a LOT of tags, and other than asking people to avoid tags about sex/torture/rape type topics, do we have a way to tell those twelve-year-old's (or more critically, their parents who may be casually watching but not that closely) up front that a question contains material that is inappropriate for kids under a certain age? a question about character development might have violent or sexual content, but the title and tags may not reflect that. I know no one likes a rating system, but would a courtesy tag for content be appropriate?
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    Note that the 13 year old age limit is due to USA privacy laws. In the EU the age minimum is actual 16 due to GDPR. For more information see Age Eligibility in the term of service.
    – linksassin Mod
    Jan 21 at 4:24
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Is the 13 year age limit a standard across the entire SE, or can individual SE's have their own age limits based on the appropriateness of the material?

It's a standard, and as linksassin noted, there's a reason behind it: we cannot legally retain the data of anyone under the age of 13 (or anyone in the EU under the age of 16). Under the terms of the Moderator Agreement, my fellow mods and I are required to report any and all underaged accounts to the community managers for deletion. So it's not like I can just look the other way and pretend that the age limit is, say, 10.

Do/should we have a list of writing resources we can direct underage readers to that are considered age-appropriate to answer their questions?

I actually raised this same question in the mod chatroom back in October. If we're going to turn users away, I'd like there to be another resource I can turn them towards. We're not sure whether such a resource exists - most websites are beholden to the same privacy laws and would have the same minimum age requirement - but if someone can find one, I'd appreciate it, and I'm sure the site's underage users would appreciate it too.

Can/do we have a tag that specifically marks a question as appropriate for a certain age group?

Sort of. Meta-tags are forbidden on the network, so we can't have "age-appropriate" or "nsfw" tags, but we can have tags for questions that are specifically asking how to write about some objectionable topic. For example, we have the tag for questions about the use of profanity in writing, but a question shouldn't be tagged as just because the OP tossed in an F-bomb.

I don't think we have that many questions about how to write rape/torture scenes, but if it turns out we do, we could consider adding and tags. Younger users or concerned parents could block those, along with the and tags, and I think that would be most of the objectionable content on the site. For the rest, we can put content warnings at the top of any questions or answers with material that may be age-inappropriate or otherwise upsetting.

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    I think this answers most of what I was wondering about (pretty much as expected). I'll wait to accept in case anyone else has something to contribute (input on the meta is kinda slow).
    – DWKraus
    Jan 21 at 21:56

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