The PROs & CONs Of Facebook Letting In Anyone Under Age 13

You must be ‘this old’ to share.

This whole fiasco reminds me of the rides at an amusement park where kids would stand on their tippy toes and wear big hats in order to be able to get onto a ride. The amusement park says they’re not allowed onto the ride for safety reasons. The children make it in anyway.

The exact same scenario is playing out with Facebook right now. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is “developing technology” that would allow children 12 years of age and younger to poke, post, and friend with parental supervision. The real point is, though, that kids of these ages are already on Facebook. It’s a well-known fact that many users are under the minimum age requirement. All they have to do is have an e-mail account and falsify their birth year. It’s the modern era’s version of standing on your tippy toes and wearing a big hat.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “mechanisms being tested [by Facebook] include connecting children’s accounts to their parents’ and controls that would allow parents to decide whom their kids can “friend” and what applications they can use.”

So what are the benefits of letting younger users into Facebook? What’s the motivation behind this move? I’ve come up with a few ideas and would hope you can share yours as well down in the comments. Without further ado, here are the pros and cons of letting anyone under the age of 13 into Facebook:

PROs

  • They’ll have parental supervision. Parents will have a more formalized role in their children’s online activity.
  • Teachers will be able to connect with students in elementary school
  • This will serve as ‘training wheels’ for younger users who may not be ready to jump into the deep end of social media just yet
  • Younger users can come out of hiding and stop using accounts with fake names to avoid being found out by parents, etc. (yep, that happens… quite a lot)

CONs

  • Younger users will be targeted by advertisers just like the rest of us
  • Younger users may not understand the result of their online actions until it’s too late
  • Cyber-bullying could be more prevalent
  • The move smacks of Facebook wanting to keep their user base numbers growing due to their IPO and intense pressure for growth and revenue

What do you think? Should Facebook lift the ban on allowing anyone under the age of 13 onto the social network? What do you think will actually happen? Weigh in down in the comments or on the Edudemic Facebook Page!

Image source & Thumbnail source

4 Comments

  1. David

    August 7, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I allowed my 11 year old a couple of years ago, to open an account. I will say why later.

    Rules were: No identifiable details, including place, address, name or photo allowed. My children were part of the rule creation process. No rules, no Facebook.

    It was registered using my email address, with notifications on. I saw every post to and from.

    Why:

    My children cannot afford not to be extremely competent and active users of SNs as a critical tool of career development.
    They need to interact with all their school mates ( they often are running 2/3 chat streams at the same time)

    A couple of years down the line, rules were relaxed, no full time oversight, then we saw a couple of mildly inappropriate posts. We came down on them hard. Now full compliance built on understanding of ‘why’.

  2. Sarah

    August 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    As an FE Teacher in the UK what I have observed was that students were using the social networking site all the time with very little kconcern about what they were writing about themselves or indeed others. We regularly have to deal Withbthe fallout that this cyber bullying causes. It is a shame that such a fantastic resource has been transformed into a vehicle for bullying. Allowing younger children to access this resource is a concern for me not just because of the bullying but also the advertising and targeting that they would then be subjected to. Using a parents’ email address is one way of monitoring but we are assuming that parents are interested enough to monitor. Too often social networking is being used in the same way TV was use. In other words if the children are quiet then leave them be.

  3. David

    August 8, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Sarah

    It is clearly the job of education to include using SNs in a responsible and careful way, this is much too important to leave out of the curriculum. Too often we see education banning technology as a lazy answer, when it should be facilitating safe and responsible usage. The use of technology and SNs is a vital part of our children’s careers and futures. By the way I work in education.

    As far as parents go, if their children’s usage is monitored in their own emails, they don’t even have to get out of their chairs to see what is happening in their children’s accounts. So much easier than overseeing TV. I would have thought that the majority of parents could go that far.

  4. Amo

    October 26, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    This is really great for my comm arts