If you have a kid under 13-years-old on Facebook, they could have their profile removed from the popular social networking site. Facebook recently revealed that it has started to kick off thousands of underage users a day. Because it’s so easy to create a profile and simply lie about one’s age, underage users are a growing problem, and Facebook has even set up a Public Policy and Online Safety team to identify users’ false information. However, Mozella Thompson, Facebook’s chief privacy advisor said that the system for finding underage users is “not perfect” and that more and more underage profiles are constantly created.
Unfortunately, one of the main reasons kids can create inaccurate profiles is because their parents are helping them. There are very few measures taken to assure that a user is at least 13 years of age – you simply have to enter a birthdate that says so. So many parents justify helping their kids get around this roadblock by confirming that if they give their kids consent to use the social networking site – and monitor their kid’s activity – then it’s fine. But Facebook has age limitations for a reason. Most importantly is the fact that online predators and other unknown contacts can be found on the site. And underage kids may be more prone to cyberbullying and less knowledgeable about protecting their online reputation.
So parents, before you help your child create a false profile, learn a little bit more about the risks of getting involved with social networking at such a young age. And there are some great “Facebook for kids” sites like imbee and Everloop that are targeted more towards kids and adopt a “no adults allowed” attitude that keeps the site safe and secure. There are plenty of ways to start learning about the online world but parents and kids alike have to be smart about social networking and online activities early on.
How do you help keep your kids safe online? What kinds of risks and issues do you address with them?