Under 13 on Facebook? No Problem

Facebook is now working on ways for children younger than 13 to access the social network.

The tech company is testing connecting to children's accounts to their parents,' so it can bypass its ban on users under 13, according to the Wall Street Journal. The new mechanism could also charge parents for games or virtual goods bought by children.

As we wrote about earlier, although the age limit on Facebook is 13 as set by the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, many of its users are younger. The WSJ estimated that about 55 percent of 12-year-olds have a Facebook account.

The younger kids often lie about their age to gain access and many parents are OK with it, according to the New York Times.

"Recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to enforce age restrictions on the Internet, especially when parents want their children to access online content and services," Facebook told the WSJ. "We are in continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policy makers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment."

It's unknown if or when the Facebook will introduce the under-13 service, but it has spent $650,000 lobbying Congress over COPPA revew. 
There are obvious reasons why there are federal age requirements for Internet use: sexual predators, cyber bullying, adult content and explicit language. Most very young children are not equipped to be dumped at the equivalent of an online adult cocktail party and fend for themselves.

But since we all know that children under 13 are using Facebook, isn't it wiser to have parental controls on it? While COPPA was created to protect children, this new mechanism sounds like it's a good compromise of parental permission and oversight.




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