Should Children Be Allowed on Facebook?
By KJ DELLANTONIA
Facebook really is after your kids.
Right now, the site doesn’t officially allow children under 13 to sign up. But in this Sunday’s Times Magazine, Emily Bazelon reports that Facebook isn’t happy about it. It has tripled its spending on lobbying and formed a political action committee in anticipation of “a fight we take on at some point” — in the words of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder — over the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Act.
Summed up, Facebook’s argument is that millions of children (7.5 million 12 and under, according to the May issue of Consumer Reports) are already on Facebook. Letting them sign up legally (under their real ages, which now they have to hide) would allow Facebook to develop stricter privacy controls for that age group. But, Ms. Bazelon writes, stricter privacy controls aren’t in Facebook’s economic interest.
I want to comment on this article so bad, but I can't remember my login to NYTimes to comment. So I'm going to do it here.
Let me start with this: parents who let their kids on FB before the age of 13 are breaking the rules and are foolish. It sets an example that it's OK to break the rules (and the law) when the rule is inconvenient to you.
Now ... if FB gets their way and allows children under the age of 13 (which requires a change in the privacy act) and kids can use their real age on there, it opens to door wider to predators. Even with parents watching their account, who's to say that a kids page will be private and only friends with their IRL friends? Who's to say that the kids won't post stuff and then HIDE it from mom/dad. Kids are ruthless and know how to get around things, and the tween age is the primary age they figure it out and push their boundaries. Once 14 or 15 hit, the kid is either satisfied being who they are or is an all out rebel (or somewhere in between). By protecting the children in the tween range we can help prevent them from going down a path we all know is wrong.
I've seen too many dateline stories to trust the internet with kids.
Even at 13 I don't think a child is ready to have a FB account. As I think back to my child hood and what I found important and where I put my time/efforts/energy ... if I had FB it could have been really scary. And a lot of kids put so much stalk into what is posted on FB. What's important isn't being at the party or at the dance or at the game, but what you put on FB about it. What pictures/videos you post. What comments are said. Who tags you and who you tag. Our teenagers' identities are wrapped up in their FB accounts and it's a very scary thought to allow children under 13 into that world.
Furthermore, FB isn't doing it because they're already there and so they figure they can make it safer. That's just what they're saying to moms/dads who are a little concerned. No. FB is doing it to reach another ad demographic; a more gullible and easily swayed group of people. We already have issues with kids wanting everything they see on TV and wanting/needing to play every game they hear about and having the best fashions. What if they have the world at their fingertips and the world is "talking directly to them?" That's a super scary thought.
Should Children Be Allowed on Facebook? - NYTimes.com:
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