Facebook’s Potential Policy Change for Kids Under 13
Facebook: one of the world’s most popular social networking sites, (with over 850 million users worldwide) that, according to your preteen, everyone is on. Now, Facebook is considering changing their age policy in order to include younger children.
Currently, Facebook has a policy that states that only people ages 13 and older can join. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is in the process of testing a safe, child-friendly version of the regular profiles—connected profiles. These new versions would give most of the online power to the child’s parents (assuming they, too, have Facebook accounts). Potentially, this could help parents catch cyber-bullying or mistreatment online, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the parent will know how to handle the situation.
This new policy is likely due to the numerous younger children that have been lying about their age in order to connect to the website. In some cases, parents are allowing, and sometimes assisting their children to create Facebook profiles before they turn 13. In addition, there are many cases of 13, 14, and 15-year-olds on Facebook stating that they are 18+ in order to seem older or more mature. Of course, this behavior can attract exactly the wrong kind of people to their Facebook profile. The question is, with this new development, would parents be able to protect their children’s “connected” profiles? If children are lying to get on the site anyway, should parents allow their kids to get these “safer” Facebook accounts?
There is already a lot of social pressure for kids to join Facebook. Oftentimes, kids will get a profile simply because their friends or older siblings have one—no child wants to feel left out. Facebook is also in the media quite often (many kid’s TV shows include social networking sites that mirror Facebook) which makes the site even more appealing to kids under 13. Many parents are worried this new policy makes it alright for kids to give in to that pressure. Parents may find it becomes more difficult to justify not allowing kids to join, because, if this new policy is put in place, “everyone is doing it” could really mean that “everyone is doing it.”
What do you think? Does this new policy alter your opinion of Facebook? How young is too young?