Facebook Wants to Hook 'Em Young

May 25 2011


Facebook hopes to one day be permitted to draw young children into the Facebook fold.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently suggested altering legal restrictions that prevent children younger than 13 from signing up for a Facebook account.

Currently, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal law passed in 1998, mandates that 13 is the minimum age at which a child may sign up for accounts on sites like Facebook.

Zuckerberg argued that in our increasingly technology-driven society, education in online media is what will set students apart and boost the economy, according to a report in the International Business Times on Monday. He maintained that learning must start at a very young age.

Learning From Facebook?

It's unclear whether Zuckerberg has plans to facilitate more learning opportunities on his social networking site or if he's simply targeting a younger crowd of Facebook users.

The Web can indeed be a powerful learning tool, according to Judy Harris Helm, president of Best Practices and an expert in early childhood education.

"Students can interview experts from far away, visit webcams of sites, share their work and connect with other students of the world researching the same topic," she told TechNewsWorld.

However, there are already numerous sites, activities and teaching tools in place online. Those sites, monitored by teachers, don't have the same risks as a mostly unrestricted page like a Facebook profile, where personal information is shared and spread in an instant. In this way, children can become victims of Internet bullying or scams.

Educators also worry about the maturity levels of children while navigating the Web.

"Using social networking sites requires focus and control. This is something that children are developing, but it takes a long time to mature. What is more important, when children are under stress, such as angry at a classmate or feeling excluded, their ability to exercise control diminishes, so they lash our and say things they later regret," Helm added.

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