Todays Wall Street Journal has an article with a quote from a Facebook Rep suggesting they may be working on a version of Facebook for kids under the age of 13yrs old. By now you all know the legal age of kids on Facebook has to be 13yrs. Not going into the why or wherefore, done it before, see previous post re: COPPA.
I just posted a comment on a LinkedIn group about this. Here’s a longer version of it .
It greatly concerns me as a mum of a 12year old and as a Social Media consultant and Cyber Safety Advocate that there is discussion around a possible Facebook platform for children under 13yrs old. A lot of other Cyber Safety Advocates are worried too, but some commentators are taking the “get them started early and safely under adult supervision” argument, which I don’t think makes sense at all. Using that argument we could get our kids drinking alcohol under age “safely” driving cars underage “safely” There’s no logic, and no proven studies to say that getting children started early on social media leads to improved behaviour or awareness on social media, there are also recent studies that show that getting kids started on Alcohol under their parents supervision does not help curb binge drinking either, (didn’t with me….hope mum’s not reading this!)
Many pundits are also saying that if this Facebook for kids platform includes enforced Adult supervision that that’s got to be a good thing…Cough…sorry..but …Adult supervision is only as good as the Adult giving it. I’m sorry to be so harsh, but as a Cyber Safety Consultant, I’ve met way too many lovely well meaning mums and dads who think they are adequately supervising their children on computers and Facebook who are totally hoodwinked, with their kids having alternate accounts that parents don’t know about, bullying other children that the parents just don’t see, provocative pictures from 12 year old girls being posted, and worse…porn downloaded at 11yrs old.
Many of the parents I present my talks to, haven’t got any idea how extensive and complex the safety/privacy settings are in Facebook for creating an even near “private account” even for their own adult accounts, and many of these parents have open public accounts and are unaware of it, and have no idea why they should be concerned. When I do have the opportunity to take them through all the settings many of them are horrified. This is not surprising, and I don’t blame the parents, Facebook privacy settings are complex. We all know, that only one person in your circle has to have an open public account and there is no privacy. In fact lets be clear…..there is no privacy in Facebook, only versions of it.
I’m happy with my 12 year old using email, and Skype and thats it! He is incredibly popular at school, in fact voted by his peers as the class captain, and very very social, and he’s NOT being left out, or missing Facebook, (and yes I’m an awful gushing mum, but would be easier if he were a loner to defend)
Please! Can we just let kids be kids for a bit longer, they get enough loss of privacy when their parents post their pictures on social media.
What are your thoughts? Let us know in comments.
To report an underage child on Facebook go Here: