According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook Inc. is in the developmental stage of allowing children younger than 13 years old to use the social-networking site under parental supervision. Plans for the controversial change-up include links between kids’ and their parents’ accounts and requirements that parents approve every friend request and application use.
While the new format will undoubtedly bring in droves of new users (and revenue), critics are concerned about the privacy of young children.
“There are enormous social, cognitive and development issues that have to be considered (when dealing with social media and kids) and Facebook has no expertise in that area. And there are currently enormous privacy concerns regarding the teens who already use it and the preteens who sneak on,” explains James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media, to USA TODAY. “Why on earth would we suddenly turn over our 8-year-olds to them while they haven’t addressed very well many of those issues yet? It doesn’t make sense.”
A Facebook spokesman says they are well aware of the underage children who “sneak” onto the site but are taking the necessary precautions to opening up the social network to users under the age of 13.
“[...] Recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to enforce age restrictions on the Internet, especially when parents want their children to access online content and services,” the spokesman said in a statement.
“We are in continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policymakers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment.”
What do you think?