I bet you’ve already heard the news. Facebook now plans to allow users who are under thirteen years old. They’ll likely never say this publicly, but let’s get honest. They want to lower the legal age to gain more customers.
According to USA Today, it’s a move that may draw cheers from young kids but add another item to parent’s chronic “to do” list. Parents will have to monitor and supervise their children’s Facebook account. The plan, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, has drawn swift concern from privacy advocates and lawmakers a federal law (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) prohibits Internet companies from collecting personal information about children under 13 years old without verifiable parental consent.
Facebook claims it will allow parents proactively oversee their kids’ activities and discourage them from lying about their birth date to sign up.
While this may be true—I just see it differently.
It’s about customers and money. Period. In fact, nearly every move you see a major company make is about that. Which is why we continue to produce products, services and entertainment (the porn industry has the most expensive web site URLs) for people even though it’s not good for society. Money for many is god.
May I ask a few questions?
Why does a ten year old need to be on Facebook? They don’t. In fact, in elementary school, what we need is more kids playing outside, not in a sedentary position viewing posts from peers or older kids. What we need is kids learning how to interact face to face with others, raising their emotional intelligence and their conflict resolution skills—not viewing photos and experiencing life virtually through someone else. What we need is children discovering who they really are, not becoming obsessed with their image—appearing cool on their new Facebook profile. Employers continue to tell me they have a difficult time locating young employees who have good communication skills, leadership skills or even mere people skills because those skills have atrophied in students, being unused in the TGIF generation: Texting, Google, Internet and Facebook.
I am not anti-technology. Obviously, technology has some great attributes and it’s not going away. I do, however, believe we need to take a stand when companies want to expand technology—even when it doesn’t help our kids mature in a healthy way, just because it will increase their bottom line.