Friday, July 27, 2012

Facebook finally considers opening up to the under 13 crowd

If you know kids under 13 you might also know that many of them have Facebook accounts and for good reasons like connecting with family and friends, sharing pictures, playing games, and finding others with similar interests.  For innovative educators the under 13 rule has been frustrating as Facebook can be used powerfully in middle school where you may have some pre-teens.  

Well, now Facebook is developing technology that would allow pre teens to use the site under parental supervision and I'm hoping that this could eventually be extended to educators as well.  Facebook is looking into connecting children's accounts to their parents' and using controls that would allow parents to decide whom their kids can "friend" and what applications they can use. 

Check out this video from the Wall Street Journal to learn more.

With Facebook's move to allow preteens access, schools will need to consider how to best support educators that want to integrate this into meaningful learning opportunities for students.  


  1. This simply means that Facebook is officially on its way to being over. Within five years, it'll be MySpace and you'll be posting another post exactly like this about something else.

    It's not the tool that's important.

    1. @Anonymous,
      You are correct that it is not the tool that it important. What is important is that Facebook is leading the way to empower families to make decisions that they feel are best for their children. Unlike you I do not believe this will lead to the demise of the platform, but instead empower parents to become more involved and give schools an opportunity to support them in doing so responsibly and effectively.

    2. Facebook is empowering nobody. Facebook is opening up to younger audiences because advertisers can make money off of those younger audiences. Consider the amount of marketing and advertising that the youth of today sees on a regular basis and consider how much more they're going to be exposed to if they log on to Facebook.

  2. I like the parental control idea but the reality is quite different... some might use it but the majority will open their own accounts at whatever age they feel like and their parents will have no clue. Kids have smart phones for 'keeping in touch' but many parents don't really take into account the multitude of uses (and abuses) that smartphones give ease of access to.

    Teens collect 'likes' as social status... when quizzed in my high school, my students said they use fb 'to see how popular I am'.

    I can confidently say that 90% of the issues I deal with in my role as a house/year coordinator (pastoral) are a direct cause of, or are extremely exacerbated by, FB.

    And sure, you can blame the user not the tool but if there were no guns...

    1. @Alex,
      Your comparison is flawed.
      Guns have intent. Killing.
      Social media's intent is to communicate and connect.

      I have a few questions for you.
      -How are you supporting young people in using social media as a powerful tool for learning and social action?
      -How are you educating parents?
      -What were the choices when you quizzed your students? It's sounds like a "How often do you beat your wife?" sort of question. When I talk to teens they say that likes provide a way for them to know how others feel about what they are thinking and replies help them think about and play with ideas.

      Many of the educators that I'm connected with understand the impact of how the answers to the above questions influence how young people use social media. When we support young people and their families in using this resource responsibly and effectively they usually rise to the occasion.

    2. I think Alex's point was, in a way, that Facebook exacerbates the social issues that students often face. Yes, the desire for popularity, bullying, and cliques existed before Facebook (and will exist after Facebook's demise) but now we have a tool that amplifies those things. And you want a younger group to be exposed to that?

      Could you consider for a moment that giving Facebook to a 10 or 11 year old might not be the best idea because you might want to let them ... oh, I don't know, be KIDS for another year or two? They're already in a world that hypersexualizes them at a young age. Why accelerate that?

    3. All things have their own advantages and disadvantage. If you are going to deal on the negative side, you always look for flaws in the system. If you choose the positive side, you are hopeful for better things. Which one do you prefer?