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Why Do Parents Lie to Let Kids Join Facebook?

Picture of young girl on laptop.

This is from a great article posted on the New York Times parenting blog.

A survey by Consumer Reports published in June found that there were 7.5 million users under age 13 (the site’s threshold for membership); more than 5 million were under 10. Over the year leading up to the report, a million children said they were harassed or threatened on the site.

Online privacy laws from 1998 limit the amount of info that can be collected about kids under 12. Facebook’s entire business model is based around collecting information about you and sharing it with advertisers. Their policy officially doesn’t allow anyone under the age of 13 to join up. No tools are in place for parents to control what information is collected about their kids.

To me the bigger concern is bullying. Many adults have trouble using social media responsibly. How can we expect an eight-year-old to use it maturely?

In our anti-bullying school assemblies we talk about Facebook quite a bit. A lot of people ask us why. “Aren’t most the kids too young to have profiles?”

The Answer, According to This Article, is No.

A representative from MTV once mentioned that most teens have two profiles. One for parents and families and another for connecting with friends.

I suspect the number of kids on Facebook is much higher than the article. Many more kids are likely creating accounts behind their parents backs.

What’s the solution? Obviously there’s a demand to let kids have social media profiles. Many games and other apps require a Facebook profile to use. Social gaming is huge and isn’t showing signs of slowing down.

Should Facebook implement privacy controls to allow parents the ability to monitor their kid’s profiles? Should they keep their policy as-is and turn a blind eye to the problem? What do you think?

Share your thoughts on… Our Facebook page! ;-)

Image by PictureYouth licensed under Creative Commons.

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