As I posted yesterday, two news stories caught my eye early this week: a mother attacking her child’s bully and Facebook taking measures to lower the age restriction on their site. I view both instances as ‘wins’ for cyberbullying.
Today, I’ll share some thoughts on why lowering the age restriction could be detrimental to our children.
In case you were unaware, Facebook’s age restriction is currently 13 years of age, complying with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Yet, 7.5 million profiles on Facebook are operated by users younger than 13-years old! I’ve found myself speaking to students in the 4th grade about online behavior, particularly on Facebook, then asking, “Does your mother know you have a profile?”
Usually, a precocious giggle answers my question.
I have my reservations regarding Facebook’s attempt to lower the age restriction. First and foremost, a child as young as 10 is, developmentally, eons behind a 13 year old. To fully conceptualize that social networking sites allow – literally – the whole world into the house is beyond the developmental capacity for younger children. Even teenagers (and some adults) have had a difficult time remembering this!
Most importantly though, I find the greatest danger is that the social and emotional skills children develop in real life, face-to-face, relationships will be circumvented if we allow younger children to do their socializing online.