Won’t someone think of the children??
Facebook is considering opening up their social network to children under 13 years of age. Perhaps no one told them that kids have been lying about their age on the Internet since it began.
What will happen if they decide to move towards granting legit access for children is that kids will see a pared down version of the site. Also, it’s likely that all interactions on the site will need to be policed by the parents (because, after all, would you trust Facebook to do that for you?). Although this approach is lawful under COPPA, it doesn’t provide incentive for kids to stop lying or for parents to have to keep track of everything their kids do on the site. It’s hard enough to keep track of one’s own privacy settings, can you imagine doing it for all of your rugrats?
Presumably opening the network up to more users could be lucrative. They are expanding their audience to include a very easily influenced demographic that in turn easily influences their parents. On the surface it might seem that Facebook’s ad-revenue business model would benefit greatly from this change, but it’s not just that. It’s about the games too.
I approached the two people on the Sepia Labs team that have children for their opinions on this. Nick Bradbury recognizes the real motivation for Facebook to include children on the site: “I’ve read some of the articles about FB opening up to kids, and they’re too focused on thinking FB wants to show them ads. This isn’t about ads: it’s about games. FB wants to get the kids who play things like Wizard 101 to start playing games on FB – and paying for them, through their parents’ account. There’s a ton of money in that.”
Nick also mentions, in regards to his son who will soon be 13, “I’m actually fine with him having an account, but only because we’ve taught him how to act responsibly on social networks. We’ve taught him that what he says on any social network – or even on IM – can last forever, so he needs to be careful with what he says. And I’ve also taught him that what he writes can’t be hidden from the watchful eyes of geek daddy ”
Alternatively, Walker Fenton hasn’t had to field requests for Facebook access: “My kids are 8 and 6, they don’t yet know Facebook. They only know Glassboard ” Quite the refreshing approach!
What do you think? If you’re a parent, would you want your kid to have access to Facebook?
Posted by Jenny Blumberg
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