The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook is testing technology that would let kids under 13 in on the social action. Is this a dystopian development or a practical feature?
Right now, if you're under 13, you can't use Facebook. The trouble is that it's easy enough for younger kids to lie their way onto the social network. According to the WSJ, Facebook hopes the new tech would help the company deal with difficulties in enforcing age restrictions online:
Mechanisms being tested include connecting children's accounts to their parents' and controls that would allow parents to decide whom their kids can "friend" and what applications they can use, people who have spoken with Facebook executives about the technology said. The under-13 features could enable Facebook and its partners to charge parents for games and other entertainment assessed by their children, the people said.
In other words, if your parents are cool with Facebook, then you'd be able to get on without breaking the rules.
Technology that lets younger kids on Facebook would be very controversial. It creeps people out because who knows who your kids could be talking to or what they might see. But that's exactly why the technology makes sense. The WSJ points to a recent study indicating that 36% of parents knew their kids signed up for Facebook when they were under 13, and that many helped their kids do it. If young children are going to be on Facebook either way, they might as well be supervised. [The Wall Street Journal]