Tweet Nothings: Facebook For 9-Year-Olds?
- June 13, 2012
- on 6/13/2012
- MoJo: Jennifer Gerlock
Rumors abound that Facebook is seriously considering allowing children under the age of 13 to create accounts on its site.
The Internet is in a tizzy.
Current policy states that users must be 13 or older, although an estimated 7.5 million underaged children are reportedly already on Facebook, most of whom did so with their parents' help.
Lowering the age limit and allowing a flood of children users in is, in my humble opinion, a very bad idea. A very, very, very bad idea.
And I am not alone. In fact, Common Sense Media has launched a petition to stop Facebook from targeting young children. The advocacy group says it is “concerned about the impact of Social Networking on Social, Emotional, and Cognitive Development of Children.”
James P. Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media stated, "Parents are already worried about how Facebook impacts our teens' interpersonal relationships, emotional well-being, and reputation. Making Facebook available to very young children before we fully understand its impact on their development and well-being would be careless.”
I share some of the group’s concerns.
I’m a heavy Facebook user, both for my own pleasure and for professional purposes, helping businesses and non-profits use it as a marketing and promotion tool.
As such, I see first hand how social media interactions affect one's future. Photos and status updates live forever on the internet. Adults are barely mature enough to grasp this fact. A 9-year-old has no concept of this or what it could mean to their lives.
Oversharing is rampant on the social media site. I’m guilty of this one myself. It is a dangerous world out there. Invite the wrong “friend” in and reveal a pattern in your travels (i.e. – school, soccer field, etc) and you are just asking for trouble. There are a lot of crazy people out there and this mother sees naïve Facebook users as another opportunity for trouble.
And cyberbullying? Don’t even get me started. I’ve witnessed this first hand. In 2011, Consumer Reports estimated that of the 20 million young people who used Facebook in the previous year, 1 million of them were bullied, harassed or threatened on the site. That is a crazy statistic. As one mother stated, “Facebook makes it easier for immature kids to harass their peers.” Sad, but true.
I can’t help but think back to my own childhood. Growing up can be a tough experience. If every little foible I made when I was a kid was broadcast to the world in real time, I can’t honestly say who I would be today.
I feel a little sad for this generation. And for my own boys. They will remain offline for as long as I can muster it.
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