Speak Out: Facebook Considers Lowering Age Requirement

At what age should children be allowed on Facebook?


Is your 10-year-old child ready for Facebook?

In an attempt to bolster the bottom line for investors, Facebook is considering lowering its minimum age of 13 to register, The Washington Post reports.

"The move highlights what analysts say will be a recurring problem for the newly public firm: Facebook needs to find ways to increase revenue and please its shareholders, but those actions can stir privacy concerns," The Post reported. 

Since its beginning, Facebook has slowly broadened its scope from being restricted to college campuses to opening access to the general public. Now, Facebook's minimum age requirement is 13, and users who falsify their age to participate violate the site's terms and conditions.

"Facebook said it hasn’t made any final decisions on its plans for children, but it points to what it describes as a problem: Millions of underage kids are on its site already. A report funded by Microsoft recently showed that parents are often helping their children set up Facebook accounts," The Post reported.

While no decision has yet been made, Facebook says the move would allow the company to do a better job of monitoring bad behavior on the site, rather than wasting energy trying to keep youngsters away. 

Lawmakers from Massachusetts to Texas are writing the social media giant in opposition to the plans. In Maryland, officials have already voiced concerns with how Facebook affects the young children who already use it.

This spring,  at in Potomac to educate parents on how to better protect their kids on Facebook and other social media. Titled "Facebook 101," the presentation addressed social media dangers ranging from to cyberbullying and impersonation to posting inappropriate comments and pictures that can be seen by anyone—including colleges and employers.

What do you think? Should Facebook lower its age requirement to boost revenue for shareholders? Is trying to maintain an age requirement a losing battle anyway?

Jeff Hawkins June 06, 2012 at 05:11 PM
No....they should not be allowed to lower the age limit. How do they stop it.......who knows ?.......the devil is in the details. Somebody created this monster and that same somebody should be able to control it. Eventually....enough bad stuff is gonna happen.......laws suits will follow and it will collapse. That's my take on it....
Sharon June 06, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Jeff, I second everything you just said!!!!
Bora Mici June 06, 2012 at 11:52 PM
The loophole exists and Facebook has historically tended toward openness. If the loophole exists, they should regulate it. I don't think they can prevent kids under 13 from joining.
Theresa Defino June 07, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Can you say more about "openess?" Many people feel FB has been secretive (lawsuits allege as well) in many aspects of its operations and what I would really term as spying on members and collecting data without their knowledge or consent--like using a person's "likes" to pitch a product to FB friends. It also constantly forces users to accept (or leave, of course) new policies that are not announced in advance or developed by users (timeline comes to mind). So I'm curious as to what makes you say that. Youtube also has an age limit of 18--doesn't it? Routinely ignored by kids lying about their age.
Bora Mici June 07, 2012 at 02:28 AM
They do operate a bit like Apple in their secrecy, and their privacy policies are buried deep in the fine print, so by openness I am referring to both the negatives and positives that come with the policy. I still don't have Timeline on my profile because I am not a fan of the layout. At the same time I am missing out on a lot of the social readers that now require it. However, Facebook is unique among social media platforms because it has attracted all sorts of users, not just niche ones, and provides enough infrastructure to let users guide their own experience on the site. I had no idea YouTube had an age limit :) If parents are looking for a catch-all solution to keeping their kids off really open social media sites, they should probably just block them on their kids' devices. I think the most serious risk of allowing a child under 13 on Facebook would be friend requests from strangers. One beneficial aspect of Facebook's complicated privacy settings is that kids would probably stay away from them and parents could set them. But it's true, Facebook is not a user-developed site - it's a user-populated site and as such mimics the real world. I also worry about cyberbullying with young kids without anyone there to monitor their behavior like in a classroom.
Katie Griffith (Editor) June 07, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Great comment, Bora. I've also managed to stay away from Timeline on my personal Facebook. The idea of it being that much easier for someone to scroll through an entire year of my life is a little weird to me. You say that one beneficial aspect of the complicated privacy settings is that it deters kids, probably allowing parents to set them. While I think that's true, I also think parents are forgetting about their children's privacy. Some people are posting and sharing pictures and stories of their families and children starting from birth. When eventually a child gets old enough to make an account, they will link it to their parents’ accounts through the relationship settings. This means that starting from birth their entire lives are condensed into a timeline, available on the Internet. What if later on a child grows up and decides they don't want all of this information available? Too late...
Theresa Defino June 07, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Timeline will come to you eventually whether you want it or not! I can't offer much in terms of comment on FB's kid policies as mine were already over 13 by the time they started getting interested in it. It's been interesting to watch their reactions to it. All three have different views about it and ways of using it. And only one (the oldest) allowed me to be her friend!
Bora Mici June 08, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Yes, Facebook reflects real life relationships. Perhaps the kids will revolt against Facebook eventually, who knows. So far they don't seem to be rebelling against their parents by not using it :) It's interesting that even its owners are getting bored by the format, citing the inability to form new spontaneous relationships among users. I don't think it was ever designed to leave kids out of the equation. I am hoping Timeline is not a permanent fixture. I think it's great how some teachers are using it to simulate an online classroom without necessarily friending their students. The comment board format provides the most flexibility for any social media site. That's what the early chat rooms looked like. Ray Bradbury predicted the wall. The Timeline seems very Martha Stewart :)-
Theresa Defino June 08, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Is it ok to say I love Martha Stewart?
Maria Fusco June 08, 2012 at 12:19 PM
:) ~ Hi Teresa. One day we meet ~ Maria
Bora Mici June 09, 2012 at 05:25 AM
This article does not do a great job of citing sources and reads a little like a trendsetter article, but it has some good opposing viewpoints on how teens are behaving on social media these days: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-facebook-teens-20120531,0,5676320.story?page=1
Bora Mici June 09, 2012 at 05:27 AM
I don't know - she's so perfect but not
Katie Griffith (Editor) June 10, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Thanks for the link, Bora!
Eleanor Cooke February 05, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Well I think that it's complicated... only parents know whether their kids ready for Facebook.... you can have 13 yr old that act 10 and 10 yr olds that act 13, so it should really be the parents choice. Maybe if they introduced an age limit of about 10 but children under 13s parent had to click on a link to verify the account or something - that way there'd be a reasonable age limit with parental permission?


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