Facebook has been making all types of changes recently—a new IPO, contemplating the use of mobile advertisements and dancing with the idea of allowing children under the age of 13 to join the popular social network.
Right now, Facebook does not allow children under 13 on the site due to legal regulations. According to the law, children under 13 would need their parent’s consent to use the site because Facebook uses the information a user provides for research and marketing purposes.
But these rules are not keeping young children from already accessing the site. According to a recent study, over 7.5 million children under the age of 13 are already on the social network. It’s not like creating a Facebook account is rocket science. Some of these children have had their parents’ consent, and the parents allowed them to use a fake age in order to create an account. Others have simply set up their own account without the knowledge of their parents.
So if children are already on the site, is it really a bad idea to remove the age restriction?
If Facebook does remove the age barrier on their site, they will require children under 13 to have their page linked to the page of a consenting adult, whether parent or legal guardian. This adult will then have control over who the child is friends with and can see everything that the child does while on the social network.
As a parent, I can see both the pros and cons of this change.
We’re constantly wanting to protect our children from harm, and with child predators lurking around every Internet corner, having a child’s account linked to a parent’s account can help protect them from falling victim to these dangerous individuals. Providing parents with access to their messages and wall also helps alleviate any cyberbullying or other inappropriate behavior.
Do children under 13 really need to be on Facebook? Some claim that allowing young children to be on Facebook is a great educational tool, as some schools use the site for classroom-related projects. But are these assignments really taking place in elementary schools? Are third graders really being asked to send in homework via social media? What ever happened to crayons and collages?
The issue has me torn. While I don’t think my own children should be on Facebook until they’re at least 13, I do like the idea of being able to monitor their usage if they were to have an account.
Facebook has the ultimate say as to whether or not children under 13 will eventually have access to the site. If access is granted, parents will have to determine whether or not they want to make a linked account for their child or risk the chance their child will create one behind their back.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you think Facebook should remove the age restriction? Please share your comments below.
Copywriter | Content Management Specialist
With over five years of professional writing experience, Kristi is a published author who expertly communicates on the importance of content in business and marketing.