Underage Facebook Users Get the Boot

May 13

Every day, approximately 20,000 underage Facebook users are booted off the network. The minimum age required to join the social network is 13 years old (not 18, as so many parents I meet believe). So how do so many underage users set up profiles? By lying, of course!

While breaking Facebook law is not illegal in a criminal sense, parents should consider the larger moral and personal safety implications that arise from encouraging a child to lie.

First, the moral angle:

Most of us toil to instill in our kids a sense of respect for rules. After all, there are household rules, school rules, don’t draw blood on your siblings rules, and general rules of decorum — like holding the door open for the person behind you (although it seems many adults don’t bother with that one, either).  Despite that annoyingly popular saying, rules are  meant to be broken, they actually are meant to be, um, followed. Especially when it comes to kids. How, then, is it okay to let a child lie about his or her age to join a site that is clearly geared toward adults?

While I believe that there are exceptions to telling the truth, I’m not convinced that Facebook is one of them. Thousands of parents obviously disagree with me given the multitudes of young’uns playing Farmville (or the soon to be released Ladygagaville – emphasis on the gag part).  However, if a child and parent are adamant that the network is essential to that young one’s happiness, then use that moment in which you type in “the lie” to discuss why Facebook is not meant for children and how underage users need to be extra careful when participating in it.

The personal safety angle:

Although there are a few added safety features for youth users (remember, though, Facebook assumes they are all at least 13 years old), your child is open to communicating with any one of the millions of adult users across the globe.  When I was growing up, I would have rather chewed chalk than consider an adult a “friend.”  With the social network, however, a friend is anyone who sends a request through cyberspace who you may have or may not have ever met in real life. All that stops your child and a stranger from becoming cyber-buddies is a single click. Facebook understands this, and that’s why they prefer that undiscerning kids keep out.

However, super-vigilant parents may be able to keep close tabs on their kids’ profiles. This requires time and energy that so many of us do not have. Kudos to the mama or papa who is on top of this.  I recently received a message from a random Facebook user telling me I’m cute and to check out her personal photos. First of all, ew. I deleted it immediately. Had I been a lot younger and filled with curiosity (as young kids tend to be), I’d probably have clicked on the link… just to see.  It’s moments like that one that make me grateful that my kids are still Facebook-free.  And if I see any of their sweet faces on the network, I’m so glad I can simply email Mark Zuckerberg’s people and they’ll take care of it pronto.

Source: dailytelegraph.com

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