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Going 13 and Under, Facebook?

By Katherine Prudente, LCAT, RDT

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.

0 Comments to
Going 13 and Under, Facebook?

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  1. I agree that children need to be eased into online socialization. Parental monitoring is key not just to circumvent situations that may be above their comprehension level but also to teach them how to properly interact.

    Thankfully, such a site already exists. It’s called Everloop. It was developed by a parent and allows a variety of overview options for parents regarding their child’s online presence.

  2. I could not agree with you more about those 13 and under using Facebook, although I’m sure so many already do. As a therapist working with teens, I often hear about these issues as well as the parents trying to navigate how to give their child boundaries and rules around technology in general!
    I also thought you might be interested in two therapy tools called “How to Spot a Bully” and “Things to Know Before You Say Go”. The first is directed at Bullying and not use those being bullied but also the Bully as well as those Observing bullying. It’s a great way to discuss the problem and also helps navigate how to solve the issue. Things to Know Before You Say Go, is a relationship therapy tool consisting of 76 cards listing the many topics to considering when creating and maintaining healthy relationships for teens. These topics include family, friends, intimacy, religion, values, education and much more! I encourage you to check them out when you have time. The website is http://www.couragetobloom.com or you can also find more information on Facebook by searching “How to Spot a Bully” or “Things to Know Before You Say Go”.
    I will definitely be subscribing to you blog, thanks for the great discussions!

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