PARENTAL WARNING: Facebook may allow access to kids under 13!

Who doesn't use Facebook? At this point, finding someone who doesn't have a profile on the social media site is extremely rare and almost impossible to find. Whether you love it or hate it, the vast majority of people are users or at least, have been at some point in their lives. In fact, it seems like the only people not caught up in the Facebook phenomenon are pre-teens, who technically are not allowed to sign up until they become 13 (although many do anyway). But now, that's about to change.

In what I consider to be Facebook's worst move ever (the timeline profile wasn't my fave and their public IPO isn't exactly working out as they planned but this takes the cake!), the company is now planning to let kids under 13 sign up for their site for the first time ever. Seriously?!


Reportedly, the social media giant is seeking to introduce controls for parents so children can log on basically as soon as they're old enough to work a computer. One method they're considering is creating a filter that allows parents to decide who their children can be friends with and which applications they can use. Though currently, there are no specific "checks" to prevent those under 13 from signing up anyway (besides asking for date of birth someone first signs up), this move would basically make the existing site completely open to young kids.

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Why the sudden change? After Facebook's stock market disaster last month, which has caused its stock to slump more than 20 per cent since the launch, the company needs to find new ways to make money. To do so, Facebook has started negotiations with identity-verification providers about how to get verifiable consent from parents to let their children use the website—which would allow the site to charge parents for games their kids sign up for.

The whole idea is so unbelievable and irresponsible, I don't even know where to start. Especially today, with all of the dangers on the web and so many cases of cyber bullying, I can't even believe that a site that supposedly prides itself on the safety and concerns of its user is even considering taking such a careless step. As it is, Facebook gets a lot of (totally deserved) flack for their very minimal enforcement on age restrictions. Now, instead of focusing on ways to make those limitations stricter, they want to take them away altogether?

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It's mind-boggling and completely inappropriate, particularly given the already tense social climate young kids and teens face these days. And the fact that the company is doing this for completely selfish and desperate reasons (money, money, money!) without seeming to give any real thought to the repercussions makes me want to boycott the site entirely. What does a 8-year-old need Facebook for anyway? They should be spending time outside and socializing with their friends in an environment where adults can supervise them, not wasting hours online.

Though the company will--I hope--most likely face fierce opposition in their new mission, if they are successful (scary thought!), parents will be on their own in establishing controls over their children's computer use and will have to be even more diligent about monitoring their kid's online activities. But for the safety of young kids and the sanity of parents everywhere, I just pray their new idea never comes to fruition!

Would you ever let your young child get a Facebook? Tell us in the comments below! 

Image via escapedtowisconsin/flickr

Topics: bullying  casa latina  child rearing  parental control  parents and children