What are the age requirements for using the Stack Exchange network and what should moderators do if they encounter an underage user?


Age Requirements

As per our Terms of Service the minimum age to access our network anywhere is 13 years old. For residents of countries inside the European Union, the minimum age is 16 years old.

Please check this answer for further details on why that is so.

What does this mean for our Moderators?

If you find a user claiming to be under 16 escalate it to us through the "Contact Community Team" button and select the "underage user" template - this will flag the on-duty CM for action so we can investigate and, if deemed necessary, delete that account and all personal data associated with it.

How far are moderators expected to investigate?

You don’t need to do additional investigating. However, if you want to help us process these faster, you may also look at the user’s IP and the country on their profile to see if they are from/in the EU, find the official list of member countries on the European Union website and also check other profiles from the same user within our network. Include any relevant information you find in the CM escalation.

If you come across information outside of our network that is linked to an account (e.g. a personal website), which contains claims of a person being underage, you may include that in a CM escalation. That said, you are not required or expected to look for information outside of our network nor search social media profiles and/or other sources besides what you are provided with inside our platform.

What if I see something on a site where I am not a moderator?

This policy only applies to sites where you are a moderator. If you see things on a site where you’re not, there is no obligation to escalate. We’d appreciate it if you flagged it for moderators on that site, though.

  • 3
    @CesarM thanks. Next question: does it matter where the user claim they're underage? e.g. if Bob posts a tweet mentioning he's 11 years old, and SE moderator happens to notice. Is the moderator obliged to report? Oct 16 '20 at 15:23
  • So moderators are still required to report all users that are under 16, even though there's credible proof that they're not in the EU? Dec 2 '20 at 19:34
  • 2
    @SonictheK-DayHedgehog yes, that's after review from the Moderator team.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Dec 2 '20 at 19:37
  • 4
    @Shadow10YearsWizard No. Moderators are only required to report claims found on sites where they moderate. Anywhere else there's no obligation to do anything.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Dec 2 '20 at 19:43
  • 1
    wouldn't be better to add an edit with a label "updated to 2020" to better clarify that this is current?
    – gbianchi
    Dec 2 '20 at 19:46
  • 3
    @SonictheK-DayHedgehog Just to echo Cesar's comment and put my personal moderator's perspective on that change (not speaking for other mods or the mod team), having mods decide whether or not they escalate based on 16 or 13 puts mods in a weird place as far as doing a job that is too much about SE's legal discretion. Simpler is better, and the policy as written makes it clear that anything else we add is just to make a CM's job easier, it's still their call. Dec 2 '20 at 19:46
  • 2
    Care should be taken when refering to that table of countries, specifically around Ireland, only the Irish state (The Republic of Ireland) is a member of the EU, Northern Ireland is not, and there could be plenty of users who refer to themselves as being from Ireland when in fact they mean Northern Ireland.
    – Nick
    Dec 3 '20 at 1:23
  • 1
    The previous public FAQ post tells normal users to contact SE about underage users using the contact form, but this post says to flag for moderator attention. Which is the recommended method for a normal user? Dec 3 '20 at 2:25
  • 1
    @SonictheK-DayHedgehog either will work.
    – Cesar M StaffMod
    Dec 3 '20 at 2:53
  • @Nick That's technically not an incorrect reference. Someone from Northern Ireland is from Ireland (the island) but not the Republic of Ireland (the country). But yes, care should be taken to make sure that NI residents have an age limit of 13 and not 16 (so long as Brexit isn't reversed). Dec 9 '20 at 4:38
  • @SonictheK-DayHedgehog Yes, putting into words what I wanted to say without leaving any room for misinterpretation was difficult without being too verbose though :p it was past 1am
    – Nick
    Dec 9 '20 at 8:25
  • 1
    Is the "must be 16" a blanket to only the EU, or should some other countries be considered? For example, the UK has left the EU but I doubt the laws on such things have changed. Other countries, such as Switzerland and Norway, aren't part of the EU but implement many of their laws; what about those?
    – Larnu
    Feb 11 at 16:56

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