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At What Age is Facebook For Kids Appropriate?

November 19, 2012 at 12:10 PM

describe the imageFacebook has taken off in popularity so fast that many parents are left trying to keep up with this craze. Many parents have reported that their kids understand more about the Internet then they do, and this has meant that many parents are having difficultly controlling their kid's online behavior. 

The behavior of kids online can also be difficult to rule over because of the fact that the Internet is becomming more and more accessible. Even if the parent chooses to put up certain parental blocks on their computers at home, there is no guarantee that this will keep the child from doing whatever they please on a friend's computer or on a public computer, perhaps even one at their school. 

With all of this in mind, many parents wonder if Facebook for kids is appropriate. Obviously, the kids are often going to be in favor of getting their own Facebook account, but when is it really appropriate? 

At the moment, Facebook requires that a user be at least 13 years of age to sign up for their free service. However, there is no test that they can run to verify age. Facebook just has to accept the word of the individual signing up that they are at least 13 years of age or older. 

Even at 13 some parents feel that their child is not old enough to have a profile on Facebook. That is a perfectly legitimate stance to take. There are many children who should perhaps not be on the site if they are this age. There can be safety concerns for someone this young. The primary concern being that the child will not know how to judge if they should communicate with someone or not on the service. The old rule of "don't talk to strangers" is just not as applicable on Facebook because without certain security measures set up, strangers may be able to send messages to one's profile no matter what. 

Sadly, kids have been exploited on this site and others. It is best for the parents of any child to have a talk with that child about online safety before allowing them to get a Facebook account. Also, it is a good rule of thumb to at least follow Facebook's own rule of not allowing anyone under 13 to have a profile on their site.

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Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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