Facebook, known as much for its privacy exploitation as it is for mindless games, is now considering allowing children younger than 13 to create Facebook accounts. Currently, Facebook prohibits users under 13 from creating accounts. Under this plan, parents will have to specifically consent, approve all friends, and pay for any games added to the child’s account.
According the Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports last year said 7.5 million children under the age of 13 were using the site, including more than five million under the age of 10. Of these, 36% created Facebook accounts with their parent’s help. Instead of creating a new, all-kids site, Facebook seeks to create buffers on its current platform that would enhance safety for younger members. With this many children already using the site and many with parental consent, some argue that the best solution is to make the parents responsible.
Although making it legal for children under 13 to use Facebook with parental consent seems like a fair solution, it also exposes children to a barrage of advertising around time-wasting games and apps. Additionally, once a child’s private information is in the hands of Facebook, can we really trust that it will be protected? Is content on Facebook is even appropriate for children under 13, parental permission or not. After all, Facebook’s confusing permissions scheme might make it extraordinarily difficult for parents to even know what their child can and cannot really see and do on Facebook. So, is cyber bullying going to actually increase as a result of this decision? Will it actually be legal? But really, there are just many more enriching activities for children at this age.
What do you think? Would you let your underage child create a Facebook account if it were legal? Why or why not? Please share your perspectives with us.