Facebook is considering opening up its site to children under the age of 13, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report. Currently Facebook has age restrictions on joining, users must be at least 13 years old to get an account. Some children lie and register using the wrong birth date, other children are prevented by their parents from joining until they’re much older than 13.
The Wall Street Journal article says that Facebook may allow children under 13 to join with restricted accounts, perhaps tied to a parent’s Facebook account for easy monitoring. People have expressed concern for safety and privacy of kids, knowing that even adults are prone to over-sharing and falling for scams. Younger children also may be lured to spend money on Facebook games, as many adults have been unable to resist the urge to spend funds on adorning their virtual farms, castles or cities.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Facebook should open its site to children under 13? Vote in today’s Wonder of Tech poll and let us know!
Parental controls may include supervising friend requests and authorizing third party applications. Some think that no matter what the controls, giving young kids access to Facebook is a bad idea. Others think that by using strict controls, Facebook could be providing parents with an opportunity to teach children online behavior and safety rules.
Currently, the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), prohibits Internet companies from collecting personal information on children under 13 without verifiable parental consent. In order to open up its site to younger children, Facebook would either have to get the law changed, arrange for verified parental consent or refrain from collecting personal information on young children.
Facebook has an admittedly difficult time in enforcing the age restriction now because many kids lie about their ages to get an account. Enhancing parental controls for tweens and younger may make Facebook safer for them, giving parents more power over their children’s accounts. But if accounts for younger kids are too severely restricted, kids may still try to skirt the restrictions by continuing to lie about their age when they create an account.
If Facebook allowed children under 13 to join, what restrictions would you like to see? If you’re a parent of young children, at what age would you let them join Facebook? Let us know in the Comments section below!
On Wednesday, LinkedIn and eHarmony revealed that passwords were hacked from their sites, with millions of members being affected. If you are on these sites, make sure to change your passwords immediately.
*Facebook friends image by Collin Key(altered)
*Children at Play image by Twentyfour kids