Children’s Facebook profiles may risk their identity development
June 13, 2012
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There are milestones in life that everyone looks forward to reaching. When you are 16, you can drive a car. At age 18, you are legally an adult. At age 21, you can drink. At age 25, well you can rent a car.
One of these milestones is about to be taken away however.
Until age 13, young Internet users are not allowed to create Facebook profiles.
However, Facebook is testing new technology that will let innocent children be sucked into their massive social networking empire.
The new technology would link children’s pages to those of their parents. Parents would have the authority to approve friend requests and access to applications for their children. The under-13 pages would be a toned down version for the Internet’s tiniest surfers.
In reality, this will not introduce children to Facebook. Parents let their children use their own Facebook profiles to play games like Farmville. Some parents are guilty of allowing their children to fake their ages so they can create profiles before they come of age.
However, many parents are rightfully concerned with Facebook allowing preteens to use their social networking website. It is no question that the amount we are connected to our social networking profiles is changing the way we interact as human beings. Whether it is for better or worse, being hooked onto Facebook will definitely have an impact on the developing identity of a child.
Children may begin to believe that since communication through the Internet is so quick and simple that it must be the ideal way to communicate. By instilling this idea so early it can speed up the loss of face-to-face contact of this web-obsessed generation.
Yes, this would be the most extreme of scenarios, but it is something to think about.
But even with this possible detrimental reality, why does Facebook need preteens?
The answer is simple – advertising.
While there are strict laws limiting what online advertisers can take from those under 13 without parental consent, it doesn’t mean Facebook can’t find ways to breach this privacy.
Knowing what children want is very important to advertisers. If Facebook can provide a new avenue for advertisers to crack into the youthful brains of its users, advertisers can market more efficiently. If Facebook does allow preteens to create profiles, it is difficult to predict the affects it will have on children overtime.
Facebook can be as addictive as nicotine in cigarettes. You wouldn’t give a child a smoke would you? Facebook should be considered the same.
Chasen Doerr is a senior journalism major and the opinions editor for the Daily 49er.