In a move that will delight advertisers and horrify many parents, Facebook announced Monday that they are developing technology to make their social media platforms available to children younger than 13 with parental approval and supervision.
The new additions to the site would allow parents to decide whom their tweens can friend and what applications they can sign up for. Afterward, any charges to games and entertainment through those apps would be charged directly to the parent that oversees the account.
James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, a resource for parents to know where to find trustworthy technology and media options, told The Wall Street Journal "there is absolutely no proof of any meaningful social or educational value of Facebook for children under 13." He goes on to compare Facebook to Big Tobacco, hooking kids earlier and earlier so they'll become lifelong addicts of the product.
The new additions to the site would allow parents to decide whom their tweens can friend and what applications they can sign up for.
Currently, Facebook is only available to individuals who can verify they were born prior to the new century, locating them at around eighth grade or older. Even so, incidents of cyberbullying by teens is on the rise and Facebook is one of the most accessible and universal mediums for social terrorism.
Putting control in the hands of responsible parents will undoubtedly help curb the majority of this dangerous unwanted behavior. But overly permissive and technology-phobic parents may not know exactly what they're signing themselves or their children up for.
Not surprisingly, a Consumer Reports story from last year found that, of the 20 million minors who actively use Facebook already, 7.5 million were younger than 10. Meaning: kids are already lying to use the site — without any approval or supervision — and most likely, their parents have no idea what their kids are up doing on their computers all day long.
The added responsibility of knowing all of your children's friends and what they're up to on Facebook will be a new burden and responsibility of this generation's regularly overwhelmed and constantly exasperated parents. Makes you miss the good ol' days when Nintendo Gameboys were the biggest problem in parent-child relationships...
A Consumer Reports story from last year found that, of the 20 million minors who actively use Facebook already, 7.5 million were younger than 10.
Finally, how young is too young to need a Facebook account? As we move into the new age of iKids, it makes sense that social media and FaceTime would eventually replace face to face playdates.
But if you don't have the motor skills to type on a keyboard, should you even be allowed to write a status update? ("Just finished my wa-wa and catching up on some sweet crib ZZZZs. Laterz, haterz!")
Whether the impetus for making Facebook an all-ages party is really about early education or purely a new financial boon for advertisers may never be known. But it is a great reminder for parents and educators alike to brush up on the great power and the great responsibilities that come with social media.