Facebook has a dirty little secret; over 5.6 million children are using this social networking tool without parental supervision. Don't think that's a problem? Think again. Those 5.6 million children are all under 13. Still don't think it's a big deal? You probably should. Facebook user terms clearly dictate that children under 13 are prohibited from having a Facebook account. So why are your kids on Facebook if Facebook doesn't want them there?
Why Kids Under 13 Should Not Have a Facebook Account
Facebook (and websites like it) bar users under the age of 13 because the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires that websites give special treatment to children 12 or younger. This legislation is designed to stop marketers from prying personal information from children and using their data to advertise to them. Today, all websites are require parental consent before allowing children to enter. So how are children under 13 getting a Facebook account? It's simple, those kids are lying about their age, and you are either condoning it or living in blissful ignorance.
All the Cool Kids Facebook
My house is a technologically savvy one. In other words, my children's dad and I know just as much (if not more) about the inner workings of the world wide web than all three of our daughter's put together. It was thanks to this self-taught education (learn to use Google) that we have been able to successfully bust our kids for signing up for everything from MySpace to Classmates.com to Facebook. Of course, the standard line we heard in protest was always that "all the cool kids Facebook", and as many times as I heard it, I didn't care. Rules are rules. There is so much unfiltered content on Facebook (and I post plenty of it personally), alongside so many types of people that Facebook simply isn't the idea environment for kids under 13.
Is Facebook Good for Kids?
The answer to that question is relative. Facebook is a powerful connection platform. It allows users to keep up with the going ons of friends and family, it lets you connect and reconnect with people you haven't seen in ages and it's a great way to communicate without actually having to 'communicate'. However, communication through Facebook alone isn't healthy, and it's no way to establish and foster real relationships.
What's My Facebook Answer?
For my 11-year-old, my answer to her recurring demands for a Facebook account will continue to be answered with, "Go outside and play with your friends." Because it's what's best for her, and because it's the rules. Not just my rules, but Facebook's rules too.
How old do you think kids should be before they use tools like Facebook?
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