There has been quite a buzz in the world of social media and parenting lately as the news has come out that Facebook is looking for ways to open up Facebook to kids under the age of 13. According to the Wall Street Journal,
“Mechanisms being tested 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, people who have spoken with Facebook executives about the technology said.”
I have to admit that I do see some logic in this idea. After all we all know kids under 13 who are all over Facebook, with AND without, parental consent. It’s not exactly the most difficult rule to get around. So if kids under 13 are going to get on Facebook either way maybe it is safer to have Facebook set specific safety guidelines and measures for the kids and their parents as a way of protecting them.
But for me, it’s not just about safety concerns. Yes, that is an issue but there is so much that bothers me about Facebook.
Mainly that it’s highly addictive. I speak from experience on this. I work online setting up and maintaining Facebook pages for businesses and non-profits. But that doesn’t mean when I’m on Facebook “working” I don’t end up sidetracked while on Facebook, simply hanging out.
The difference is, I spent my entire life being social in real life. Because of those real life social skills I have also used Facebook as a tool to strengthen real life friendships. Heck, I just ran a 5K race that was planned entirely on Facebook, and some of the people I ran with I only know from Facebook.
The problem with letting younger kids tap into an online community like Facebook is that they haven’t entirely learned how to tap into their real life community yet.
The bottom-line though? Facebook can lower the age all they want, but at the end of the day, in my house, I get to decide what age the kids start using Facebook. What age would you let your kids join Facebook?