Rumored Facebook Changes May Cater to New Generation

Remember when you were younger and your parents  monitored every single detail of your life? They wanted to know where you were going, who you were hanging out with, what your grades were and if you would be home before the streetlights came on. Pretty typical more most kids.

However, the parents of Generation  Z (Children born in the late 90’s-2010) are dealing with entirely different issues than previous generations.They are parenting a generation that has never known a world without the internet. These children are avid YouTube users, Angry Birds experts and according to a Consumer Report released in May, they have managed to bypass age restrictions and currently account for 7.5 million Facebook profiles.

Since online age restrictions are notoriously difficult to enforce, it looks like Facebook’s newest rumored endeavor may include allowing children under the age of 13 to launch their own profiles without having to deceive their parents or violate safety regulations.  According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, the changes would allow parents  to link up their own profiles with their child’s account to have full control over friend requests and apps they use.

 

Although this does seem like a logical solution, we have a few questions about this rumored new Facebook development…

 

Is Facebook  a place for children? 


With Cyberbullying, phishing, sexual predators and compromising content as potential risks for adult Facebook users, how much more of a risk is it for children who are logging in? The Consumer Report stated that a majority of the 7.5 million children who are currently  violating the site’s terms of use, are primarily unsupervised. Although parents have access to their children’s usage of the site, there would be no way to ensure that parents are with the child or are truly monitoring their child’s activity. With no way to ensure parental oversight, this could potentially just open the site up for children of all ages to a place that was never intended for an underage audience.

 

   Has Facebook become too democratized?

At Facebook’s first launch in 2004, its primary purpose was to connect students on their college campus’(primarily Harvard, The Ivy League and Stanford). Soon it expanded to other Universities,high schools and now it is available to users 13 and older. But with Facebook becoming accessible to everyone, one has to ask…is it too accessible? I am pretty sure I’m  not the only one who found it uncomfortable when I inevitably received a friend request from my mother. As if that was not bad enough, now I may have to worry about getting a friend request from kids I babysit? No thanks, too weird.

 

What is the real reason behind the change in terms talk?

Since ensuring that underage users are monitored by parents while on the site is virtually impossible, and Facebook is already monitoring the privacy of teens(13-17) by hiding their information from public search results–there has to be a real reason, right? The Wall Street Journal article that originally published the information about the rumored changes in the social network suggests that perhaps this is a means into an untapped user demographic and a way to charge parents for the apps that their children use. Expanding the user base would bolster Facebook’s active user numbers(currently at 900 million) and  potentially monetize the site, something that investors  are eager to see in the face of declining stock value.