Kid looking at computer

A teacher’s experiment may end up with a hard lesson, since 5-year-olds aren’t supposed to be on Twitter.

You’re never too young to send your first tweet. Or are you?

Preschoolers at a French kindergarten are active members of the Twitter community, despite not being able to read or write properly yet—and despite the service’s apparent ban on users under the age of 13.

The 29 youngsters have been tweeting about their daily activities using a joint Twitter account since the school year began at L’école Albert Camus, a kindergarten in Talence, near Bordeaux.

Their account has 89 followers, reports AFP, and most of them are the kids’ parents.

Every day, the 5-year-olds suggest potential tweet topics, and take a vote on which activity they want to tweet to their followers. Once they’ve made their decision and try to compose the tweet themselves, two of the kids type the tweet with the help of an adult. The hope is that the preschoolers will eventually be able to type the tweets themselves.

The students selected the avatar used on the account by drawing pictures and voting for their favorite.

“We gathered snow to see how it turns into water,” read one of the tweets. Another referenced a cake they baked together last month.

Twitter’s prohibition on accounts for children under 13 is unevenly enforced. For one thing, hip young parents—including Twitter cofounder Evan Williams and his wife, Sara—seem to make a thing of registering a Twitter account for their newborns.

The children’s teacher started the Twitter project as a way of helping the kids understand language and get to know the alphabet in its different formats (written, on the keyboard, and on the screen). Philippe Guillem’s project is also helping the youngsters move from the oral to the written word.

Part of the project’s aims is to help the preschoolers’ parents understand Twitter. Following tests in May and June of last year, an information leaflet was distributed at the start of the school year to explain the project, and the parents were given a tutorial on how to set up their own Twitter account. Around 80 percent of the parents are now following the kids’ account—just one of the parents had a Twitter account prior to the start of the project.

To protect the children’s privacy, the tweets on the camusmat04 account are only visible by approved followers.

It’s a tremendous idea to help the students understand both the nature of communication and language. Undoubtedly, it’s helping them realize how they can interact with a larger community beyond the one they see in person on a daily basis (albeit in a safe, supervised way).

As they grow older and get to grips with the wider Internet, they’ll do so with a solid grounding of how to appropriately communicate with other citizens of the Web.

Bonne ideé, Monsieur Guillem.

Now, if only Twitter can get on board. According to the service’s privacy policy, if it becomes aware of children under the age of 13 using Twitter, it will delete their account. So the children may end up learning a very different lesson

Photo by goodncrazy

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