Facebook age limits lowered?

According to the Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, 13 is the official “age of consent” for having a Facebook account.   However, we all can probably name at least one child from our friends and family that are on Facebook and under the age of 13.   Some of these accounts are made with their parents’ permission to lie about their age and some are just created with or without permission as pre-teens simply check the “box” and begin LIKING Facebook.    Recently however, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg thinks that the age should be even lower.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was created to protect children online and requires that certain websites that collect information on its users do not allow children under the age of 13 to use the site.   Zuckerberg wants to change that, citing the “educational” benefits of using Facebook.

“That will be a fight we take on at some point,” Zuckerberg said according to CNN. “My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age. Because of the restrictions we haven’t even begun this learning process. If they’re lifted then we’d start to learn what works. We’d take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe.”

According to projections based on its yearly State of the Net survey conducted by Consumer Reports there are:

  • 7.5 million of the 20 million minors on Facebook in the past year were younger than 13.
  • More than 5 million were 10-years-old or younger.

To counter the consumer report one a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement  “Recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the Internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don’t circumvent a system or lie about their age.”

Could Facebook’s new “Family Safety Center” and Social Reporting tools be the first steps in achieving some comfort level by the public of about their child’s safety on Facebook?

If your child will be using Facebook will you be using universal protections methods like:

  • Monitoring your child’s Facebook page
  • Using privacy controls – something that one in five active adult Facebook users admit to not doing
  • Turning off instant personalization so that the whole world doesn’t know where your child has been or where they are going
  • Prohibiting “check-ins” for their own safety both online and off
  • Discussing cyber-bullying so that they know how their actions online can affect others or to help them prevent cyber bullying from affecting them.
  • Limiting or prohibiting apps use – from games to other applications which do “auto-posting” to your timeline.

I admit, my oldest daughter has a Facebook account, and although she is 17 I’m a “friend” on it and monitor some of her activities like posting pictures or information.  However my younger children, no matter how hard they beg, won’t be getting an account until they are 13 or older. Considering how technology is progressing and how the dangers are progressing to, they may be much older before it is permitted.  Whatever they want to share now, they can share through mom’s account.

What do you think?  Should the age limit be lowered?   Why or why not?



Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities