Richtel, M. & Helft, M. (2011, March 11). Facebook Users Who Are Under Age Raise Concerns. New York Times.
I think that it's okay to restrict children under 13 years of age from signing up for a Facebook account. As great a tool as Facebook can be for keeping in touch, reconnecting with friends, or even a quick way to communicate with people you see often, it could also be put to some negative uses. I have read many articles recently which discuss cyberbullying and negative comments frequently posted by young Facebook users. I think that it is acceptable to have young people wait until they are more emotionally mature before using Facebook. I must say that I am very happy Facebook wasn't around when I was in middle school. Middle schoolers were hurtful enough face to face, I could only see it as being intensified when hidden behind a computer screen. This article even discusses actual instances of predators coming after young users of sites like MySpace or Facebook.
My primary issue with this article is the parents who are allowing their children to lie about their age in order to sign up for Facebook. I think it's a bad idea to teach your children that lying to get something you want is okay. The one mother discussed in the article justifies this by stating that her son would have done it anyway and at least now she can monitor his usage. If she had concerns that he would go behind her back to use Facebook, why isn't she already monitoring his Internet usage. This goes back to an earlier article I discussed where the parents take a very apathetic approach to their children and technology, like they're going to do it anyway, so why not prevent a whole lot of heartache and just let them. That doesn't necessarily sound like good parenting to me, but I'm also not a parent.