If you’ve got a child under thirteen in the house, make sure that you hide them from Mark Zuckerberg. That’s because Zuckerberg is arguing that the under-13 ban on using the social networking site is ridiculous, and he believes the educational benefits of using Facebook mean that the restrictions should be lifted. Educational benefits?
Banning Kids on Facebook
In Britain, the under 23 crowd is currently banned from using Facebook under a voluntary “good practice” code. In America, this similar age limit is actually dictated by laws that are designed to protect young children.
Zuckerberg’s comments that he is going to “fight” to get the under 13 crowd involved have sparked some heated words in Britain. The family of 17 year old Ashleigh Hall of Darlington, County Durham, lured to her death after Peter Chapman posed as a teenager on Facebook, said, “What do they want, another tragedy before they do anything? They do not take any notice.”
While Facebook says that it actively polices the profiles on the site to make sure that under 13 children aren’t registered – just last month a report showed that approximately 20% of British children aged 9-12 had Facebook pages. More than 7 million children under 13 use the site worldwide.
Mr. Zuckerberg made his plan public at a summit on innovation in California schools. He was quoted as saying, “My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age.”
Fighting to Keep Children Away
Many have weighed in on the issue, yelling about the dangers of letting young people onto Facebook. Claude Knights, the director of child protection charity Kidscape, said that enabling children under 13 into the adult world of Facebook would mean that even more people would be “at risk of cyber-bullying and other online dangers.”
Facebook counters by saying that it has all sorts of safety controls in place. They explain that it is a parent’s responsibility to teach children about safety, just as they do about crossing the road.