Facebook For Under 13 Years Old? Too Young?

    Sam Mutimer

    Facebook is ruling the social networking space right now, with over five hundred million active users – yet how many of those are under the age of 13? Facebook’s policy states:

    No information from children under age 13. If you are under age 13, please do not attempt to register for Facebook or provide any personal information about yourself to us. If we learn that we have collected personal information from a child under age 13, we will delete that information as quickly as possible.”

    These days it’s pretty common that an under 13 would sneakily creep on and set an account up without a parent/guardian knowing. Also, it’s pretty common to see the parent set accounts up to list children in their profile, with no real knowledge of the repercussions down the track.
    At a US Commerce Committee, Zuckerberg was questioned about the “dangers” posed to under 13’s by Facebook use, but he did not waver from the stance that introducing children to online technologies is a good thing:

    “[Allowing kids under 13 on Facebook] will be a fight we take on at some point. My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age,” he said.

    Children under 13 are already using Facebook, so why not put parameters in to allow for this? With a close watchful eye on what they are doing, this could resolve so many issues, e.g. cyber bullying, predators and unruly behaviour.
    One of our developers (@DeveloperSteve) here at thinktank media has a valid point; he put forward the opinion that Facebook could set up family accounts. This would be where anyone under terms of service age would need a parent/guardian to approve privacy settings, all friend approvals, application approvals, messages and the like. In doing this we can keep a close watchful eye – not different to watching your children play at the park – yet have the parameters to monitor, educate and engage them.
    So, thoughts? Do you believe that Facebook should open up their network for under 13’s? Should they be deprived from connecting with family/friends overseas/interstate??? Or would that be opening up another can of worms?