Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

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 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.

Related Stories:

Consumers Union urges stronger Facebook protections for children

13 year old suspended for Facebook post wishing bin Laden killed math teacher

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Wants Kids Under 13 To Use Site

7.5m Facebook users are under 13

Senator To Facebook CTO: Your Company Is 'Indefensible'

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Anonymous SoundMix said...

I am in complete agreement with you. I worry about my grandkids. But then I'm an old fart also.

I thinks it's best to keep phones, computers, etc. out of the bedroom.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous KimW. said...

Strongly agree with you, Bill. In fact I'd say 15 or 16 would be a better age.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Kim said...

I totally agree with you Bill. I don't allow my pre-teen to have a Facebook account. My older teens who do, have added me as a friend which was their choice. I do make sure that their privacy and security settings are stealth though. I have educated them so well about cyber smarts that they don't feel they need to hide anything from me. I work in computer security and have been operating a computer since I was a kid for over 30 years now. I completely understand the dangers but find that many parents who just aren't computer savvy themselves are the ones that usually give their children free reign as they consider the child as the computer expert. They just don't seem to think Internet safety is that big of a deal until it's too late. I wish that I knew of a way to change this way of thinking. Great article!!!

Kind Regards,

5:25 PM  
Blogger Paul Hyland said...

I've been friended by a niece and a nephew - both under 13. I contact their parents instead.

I'm still trying to figure out what safe online communities exist for helping to introduce my daughter to this world, but Facebook doesn't seem like the winner by a mile. I do like the idea that internet / media literacy is an important skill to teach kids, but I don't think M.Z. is the role model to pick as the teacher...then again, he thinks Facebook is the answer for EVERYTHING.

Zuckerberg: Give me your children • The Register

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Clyde said...

Of course Facebook wants kids. More users, more revenue. Younger users don't worry about FB's riding roughshod over their privacy, and selling the info to the highest bidder. No surprises here; it's all about money. Now, next windmill, please.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Bob Corkery said...

You're a good man Bill, I've always appreciated your thoughts and words! On FACEBOOK...I totally agree 'ole Zukerburg is part of the breakdown in our society.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Saetana said...

I actually think the lower age limit for Facebook should be 16, a 13-14 year old is not savvy enough to avoid the pitfalls (although they think they are of course, I would have felt the same at that age). I use Facebook a lot, I'm a gamer and have a lot of gaming friends, however I restrict the information on my account (and I mean ALL the information including that suppposedly available to Facebook alone) to what I am happy to be in the public domain. No address and most certainly no telephone number, my email is a Hotmail address and not available to my friends. Facebook is full of scams, links that will give you a virus if you are not sufficiently protected and of course predators, it most certainly is NOT a safe place for children of any age in my opinion ;o)

7:32 PM  
Blogger weebit said...

I did not want to post a whole article that I posted on this subject back in 2009. Too much text. Please visit, you will be surprised by what I posted. I also did this as a study which surprised me. Although at the time i did not include the statistics. I was new at this. But My study was on target with Bill's. Plus i was able to come up with age ranges etc. Thanks Bill for your blog.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it pretty much has to be on a case-by-case basis. It depends on the kid and the relationship the parent or guardian has with the kid. There is so much capacity for learning that it is a shame not to let them have access but unrestricted access is ridicules. I look at it as though they are "playing" out in the yard. they should be allowed to do that but never unsupervised.

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Liz said...

I don't think children under 13 or 14 should be on Facebook. In fact, under 16 if it were up to me. I don't have that to deal with as both my sons are men now. I have a good friend who let her son have a facebook account and he is 9. He also has an I phone. She said it is because he is a good kid. Hope he stays that way. Too much too soon, if you as me.

1:05 AM  
Anonymous Massivholzbetten said...

I guess these days it's getting harder for parents to watch over their own children. Still it has to be done even if the youngsters will probably not like and apprechiate it. But it's always been like this with education, now including the world wide web it's just gotten one more dimension.

3:21 AM  
Anonymous Kindermöbel said...

So no one under the age of 13 is allowed to join... so what? Who can control it anyway? I don't want to know how many fake-accounts already exist... it's no problem one could really solve.

4:51 AM  
Anonymous Tom Samolyk said...

I think that everyone wiht parental responsibilities is in agreement with Bill. Now, what to do about it!

I currently control internet access from all PC's and Ipod's in my house, but that is not enough. FB is also being accessed from cell phones. All of my children are adults and make smart (safe) internet decisions However, I have grand children that in there early teens that typify what Bill's characterization, "it won't happen to me", etc...

What can be done to force FaceBook to police itsself?

Tom Samolyk

8:43 PM  

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