Should Kids 13 and Younger be Allowed on Facebook?
JUNE 8, 2012:
Jason Douglas, Interactive Marketing Strategist
When the New York Times reported that Facebook was creating technology to allow kids under the age of 13 the ability to create a profile (while under parental supervision), I doubt many reacted in a positive manner.
My first reaction was one of confusion and doubt around why Facebook would want to do this and what parents would think.
After putting some strategic thought into it, I was able to answer those questions:
Why would Facebook want to do this? Two reasons:
What would parents think? Two possible answers:
Expanded advertising reach. With the fiasco around the Facebook IPO and the stock’s subsequent drop, Facebook needed to do something to show they had value. With over 85% of their revenue coming from advertising, it made sense for them to expand the network to the previously disallowed segment.
Protection. With recent studies confirming that millions of kids under 13 are already on Facebook and with requiring parental supervision when the technology is released, this helps Facebook be protected from potential lawsuits in the future.
No way, Jose! Parents understand that technology is as part of the daily culture and routine as waking up. Many parents think teenagers should not be on Facebook, let alone pre-teens. With risks of online bullying and Facebook Depression, even with parental supervision, some parents are not in favor of expanding Facebook for all.
Bring it on! Considering there are millions of kids currently lying about their age, parents will welcome the opportunity to be connected to their children on Facebook to monitor their every move. Facebook can be a very positive part of a child’s upbringing. Plus, with technology as a large part of today’s culture, it makes sense to have children become familiar as to not be left in the dust.
For more ‘on-the-street’ responses, check out this piece of coverage from KSTP-TV of the Twin Cities
featuring parents and my brief interview with reporter, Kate Renner.
My opinion: I welcome the new segment into the world of Facebook, with some caveats.
Highly regulate advertising to those under 13. There should be a process to become an authorized advertiser to this segment. Not every advertiser needs access to this group. The under-13 group is an easily influenced group and in order to avoid another tobacco advertising fiasco, this would go a long way in preventing that. Parents would also welcome this.
Turn off Facebook Places. This should be done on both the Web and mobile versions. While kids can type where they are, turning off the ability to check in is one feature that would enhance security and experience for children.
Make under-13 accounts like brand pages with parents as the administrators. This would give them the ability to see everything that is public and behind the scenes. This would also require all friendships to be approved by the administrator/parent which would help prevent any predator activity.
This technology is still being created so do not expect this to happen soon. Facebook needs to take their time in creating the correct roll-out strategy, guidelines, resources for inquiring parents, and make sure this is done right the first time. This could be a nice win … or an epic fail for Facebook. There’s more to lose than to gain here. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Do you have any concerns about Facebook going under-13? Does your organization have policies in place regarding marketing to this young audience?