Facebook Wants Your Pre-Teen
If you look at the terms of service for many websites you’ll find they claim users under 13 are not allowed. This is required to protect themselves against COPPA (Child Online Privacy Protection Act). Even the search engine Ask.com notes “you may not register for the Community feature or create a user profile if you are under 13.” At the same time they market various products towards kids including Zwinky and Smiley Central using an invasive toolbar.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is now recommending removing the under-13 restrictions. Mark’s main reason is education. I have no doubt the first lesson kids will learn is how easy it is to give away your personal information and get scammed. Then again, they might think it’s normal for Facebook to post messages to all their friends without their approval.
I haven’t talked to many people who think Facebook should be open to children under 13. That includes all the parents who already allow their pre-teens to have a Facebook account. Their response is always be how they supervise what their kids are doing online so it’s ok. If you think it’s ok for kids under 13 to create a Facebook profile or your pre-teen already has an account click comments below and share your opinion.
For full disclosure, both my daughters have been online since 1983 and they received an exceptional education. Given my role in the evolution of the online world they did have a much different experience.
Erica (right) was running trivia games in chat rooms when she was 9 but she was among friends. She never experienced the predators that currently roam the various globally created pages that appear at random. Now in their 30’s they could teach classes on internet safety.
On the other hand, my oldest grand daughter who recently turned 13 has blocked me from Facebook. I used to send her links like “Who Gets Your Personal Information on Facebook” and the “Think Before You Post” which she thought would never apply to her. She’s a member of the Share-it-all and the It-would-never-happen-to-me generation. She thinks it’s fun to pose as a 19 year old.
There are plenty of educational benefits to the Internet but for pre-teens Facebook is not one of them. The parents who grew up with Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign should apply it to their kids as well. Again, I’m an old fart and this is my opinion. I encourage you to post yours.