Published by Ana Etxebarria, November 2011
I have recently read an article claiming that millions of preteens have signed up for Facebook, as indicated by a recent survey carried out in the US which showed that parents actually helped them lie to do it. I have 4 kids under age 12 and all of them have Facebook accounts, so I feel very much related to this issue.
Facebook sets the minimum age for using its service at 13 to comply with US federal laws that protect children’s online privacy.
However, a new survey from Microsoft and such top universities as Berkeley and Harvard has found that half of all parents with 12-year-olds and 1 in 5 parents of 10-year-olds knew their kids were using Facebook.
Asked how the children signed up for the service, thus violating the site’s terms of service, nearly 7 in 10 parents admitted they helped their kids set up the accounts.
The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, drew from a random sampling of 1,007 parents with children ages 10 to 14.
The survey comes amid a debate over children’s online privacy protection in a new era of mobile apps and other technologies. Consumer reports recently reported that 7 million underage users were on Facebook.
Do age limits for Internet services really stop children from using age-restricted sites? Should companies be allowed flexibility to experiment with new services and technologies without new regulations?
Most parents, me included, want our kids online as early as possible. We don’t want to be told how to be a parent. We want our children to be part of the digital world and be able to communicate with relatives and friends using current technology tools.
But, what do privacy advocates say? Well, they say that parents are not fully aware of what data is being collected about their children. If parents knew that sites such as Facebook collect information to deliver customized ads, they would be more cautious. This is total nonsense in my opinion. Or is that TV stations don’t bombard our kids with advertising in children’s networks?
Now, the question is: Is it really good for Facebook to have those underage users illegally? Well it must be, otherwise they would do something about it.
What do you think?