Report: Facebook Considering Opening to Kids Under 13

on Thursday, June 7, 2012

Facebook is both a learning tool and a distraction for older students. Now the social network is considering opening to children under age 13, according to a report on The Wall Street Journal today.
Anton Troianovski and Shandi Raice wrote:
    Facebook Inc. is developing technology that would allow children you
    nger than 13 years old to use the social-networking site under parental supervision, a step that could help the company tap a new pool of users for revenue but also inflame privacy concerns.
Facebook is considering connecting children's accounts to their parents' and implementing controls that would let parents decide who their kids can friend and what applications they can use, says the Journal.
Facebook currently bans members under 13, but many children lie about their ages to get accounts. Some do so with parental cooperation.
Consumer Reports last year said 7.5 million children under the age of 13 were using Facebook, including more than 5 million under the age of 10. Facebook has 900 million users worldwide. A fall study sponsored by Microsoft Research found 36 percent of parents were aware that their children joined Facebook before age 13 and many of those parents helped them do so, according to the Journal.
A Facebook spokesman said in an email that the company has "nothing to announce" and:
    Many 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. 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.
Could Facebook be an appropriate tool for helping younger kids connect with teachers, peers, and learning? Or would it just be a distraction? What would be some of the issues of integrating Facebook into schools for younger kids? Let us know.