Is Facebook creating a melting pot for online predators and cyberbullying by allowing kids under the age of 13 to join? Or can parents use the opportunity to educate, engage and protect their kids through monitored use?
You may have noticed that Facebook has been in the news quite a bit recently. There was the largest IPO in US history, there was a Mark Zuckerberg wedding, a lot of noise surrounding the IPO and insider information, falling stock prices, a new Facebook Photo app, and now most recently: leaked speculation that Facebook is exploring the possibility of opening its doors to children under the age of 13... with parental supervision that is. So what exactly does that mean for parents?
For most parents the question “Can I have a Facebook account?” sends chills down their spine. Well mom and dad, you might be hearing it even earlier if Facebook opens its doors to children under the age of 13. We’re in the business of parental monitoring providing parents an easy solution to protect their children on social networks, and mobile phones and we have some insight into what a lowered Facebook age limit means for kids, and their parents.
For kids: Learning how to use social networking, mobile phones, and the internet is something that takes time, and parental involvement. Allowing a child to roam free is no longer possible with the dangerous people, sites and activities happening around the web. Just imagine teaching your child how to ride a bike for the first time and thinking you can skip training wheels; they will get hurt, but on the internet everything is permanent. If Facebook can create some “digital training wheels” and a safe place for children to learn how to the use social networks and the internet, we’re all for it.
For Parents: There is an opportunity for greatness, as well as an opportunity for risk. Most parents are keenly aware of the recent rise of cyberbullying associated with social networks (many of which do not provide the security and privacy options that Facebook has created). What most parents don’t realize is there are many proactive things they can do to help combat the growing issue, and whether they like it or not, the biggest and best way is a parental monitoring tool for their child's phone and social network profiles. This year alone an astonishing 38% of 12 year olds already have Facebook (which requires lying about their age), and 64% of their parents don’t know about the account. Is it better to let them in with guidance and parental supervision, or to continue to ignore that they are getting in without parents noticing.