Facebook considering lowering age requirement, parents worried about cyberbullying

Jun 11, 2012 13:52:52Posted by John Skorick, MyAKA Founder & CEO

Facebook considering lowering age requirement, parents worried about cyberbullying

Facebook is now considering allowing kids 13 and under to join the social networking site, a move which has encountered a great deal of opposition, according to The Washington Post.

Kids are already spending more time than ever online and they are sharing their picture, location details and personal information - and this may be a problem not only because of possible predators, but also because advertisers are trying to push their products on young kids as well.

"They have so many problems with privacy and the impact of social media on the social, cognitive and emotional development of teens. Why on the earth would I want them to also go after my 8- or 9-year-old?" Jim Steyer, chief executive of the child advocacy group Common Sense Media, told the news source. "What’s next, Facebook for toddlers?"

Even though more young kids are accessing the social media site, many believe they shouldn't be allowed to create a profile on it. Facebook officials argue it is very difficult to monitor age limits online, according to the media outlet.

Privacy issues are not the only reason parents and others are against the age change. Parents are also concerned their children will become victims of cyberbullying, the publication reports.

According to the news channel WMBF-TV, with summer almost here parents may want to start talking to their children about cyberbullying, as it can still happen even with school out for the summer.

"That's one of the big distinctions between bullying and cyberbullying," Gary Warner, UAB's cyber crime expert, told the news source. "If you're being bullied in the lunchroom or on the school bus, that's an event that has a short duration for a short time. Cyberbullying - if you're awake and your electronic device is on, you can be a victim of cyberbullying."

Cyberbullying is not limited to the computer, as a child's cell phone can also be a target for bullies. If parents think their child is being harassed, they may want to give them a second phone number to utilize and possibly setting them up with a secondary email. These alternates could be used exclusively for schoolwork, family and friends. Also, parents should monitor their child's cell phone use and be friends with them on Facebook to keep an eye on them.