Should Kids Be Allowed On Facebook?

Photo: (Getty Images)

A few weeks ago, a school in Queens launched the first ever Delete Day, an event encouraging students to up their online security settings and nix any hurtful content that might be circulating in social network land.

Lauren Alvarez, 16, told Act that she was moved to participate because she wanted to set a good example for her younger sister: “I worry about what she ‘thinks’ is cool and OK to put on the internet.”

She’s not the only one. In fact, the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) has been effective since 2000, prohibiting sites from acquiring personal info on kids 13 and under. That means that grade schoolers aren’t supposed to be sharing their birthdays/contact info/foursquare check-ins et al. with the world.

Of course,  it’s not exactly enforceable, and plenty of young’ns flash their business every day on social networks. Mark Zuckerberg finally threw in his two cents last week, saying that kids can get a lot out of the education factor–which would presumably include access to news and culture as well as connecting with fellow students, like-minded talents and cause-minded activists. However, despite media coverage suspecting that he would lobby for changing the minimum age cut-off, Zuckerberg announced today that he has no plans to challenge COPPA.

“That’s just not top of the list of things for us to figure out right now…. Some time in the future, I think it makes sense to explore that, but we’re not working on it right now,” said Zuckerberg, via Reuters.

Delete Day had the right idea; making careful choices when engaging online is the best tool we have to protect young kids from online bullying and unsafe content. The question is whether we’ll stick to it. We want to know: What do you think? Should your little brother, sister or cousin be allowed on Facebook? Is 13 the right cut-off age? Tell us in the comments or on Act’s Facebook page.

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