My view: Why not let kids have Facebook pages?
Facebook might change its policy and allow preteens to have their own Facebook pages -- 7.5 million already do.
June 7th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

My view: Why not let kids have Facebook pages?

Laura Sessions SteppEditor's note: Laura Sessions Stepp is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, formerly with The Washington Post, who specializes in the coverage of young people. She has written two books: "Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both" and "Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children through Early Adolescence." She is a consultant to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Read another view from writer Heather Chapman, "My View: My kids won't be on Facebook any time soon."

By Laura Sessions Stepp, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Will elementary and middle school students soon be able to put up their own Facebook pages? It looks like it.

According to news accounts, Facebook is considering doing away with its rule that no one under age 13 may have a Facebook page. Cranky math instructors and tyrannical P.E. coaches must be at least a tad nervous at the thought of what the little darlings might post about them. But the change could be a good thing if it encourages a reasonable amount of parent involvement.

The things the rest of us do on Facebook - reveal what we had for lunch, post way too many photos of our kids and pets, comment on what Queen Elizabeth wore for her 60th anniversary jubilee - are considered too dangerous for 10-, 11-, or 12-year-olds to do, even if their "public" consists only of people they've invited to be their friends.

One result is that millions of pre-teens - 7.5 million, according to a Consumer Reports account last year - have established profiles on Facebook, some using fictitious names. Five million of them are younger than 10. What's most disturbing is that in many cases, parents have helped their kids circumvent the rules. What, pray tell, does that teach their children?

Poll: Should kids younger than 13 be allowed on Facebook?

The parameters of the policy under consideration at Facebook are undetermined but would work something like PG-13 movies. One idea is that the child's page would be linked through the parent's page - a sidecar, if you will. Savvy parents would give their children as much privacy as possible even if wincing sometimes at what they saw. But they'd also have the opportunity to step in if they noticed something that was hurtful, dangerous or inappropriate.

Despite what some adults might think or read, teens, at least by their own account, are pretty responsible when it comes to social networking.

Read Laura Sessions Stepp's full column

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. hamsta

    @ flamespeak you are furthering the same point i was making. kudos for a more detailed explanation.

    June 8, 2012 at 2:13 am |
  2. Flamespeak

    There are several reasons not to have a facebook account.

    1. Sharing of private information constantly is a pretty terrible idea on the whole. Have you ever said or done something you didn't mean in a fit of pas sion? Now that saying is immortalized.

    2. The idea of giving out your routine actions and schedules by talking about your daily events on Facebook is a great way to make you a target. For example, I recall a news article where someone had posted a picture of cash they had just won (I can't recall what they had won it from) and they were shortly the victims of home invasion, assault, and robbery from one of their 'friends' looking for a drug fix.

    3. The digital age allows for people to communicate at an instant, however, it is dumbing down the communication skills of most of the populace that frequently use such services and it forms poor habits in terms of sentence structure and other writing skills.

    4. This service encourages outlandish behavior. The more bizarre or insane you act, the more attention you will recieve and this service, like other social networking services, rewards those who behave in a negative way.

    All in all, it is a pretty terrible idea for kids to have a facebook account. Although it is a pretty terrible idea for ANYONE to have a facebook account.

    June 8, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  3. hamsta

    because facebook can be even more dangerous than a compute virus even for adults. if adults can get fired from their job or lose their home because of facebook it definitely is not for children.

    June 7, 2012 at 8:20 pm |