In 2012, youth ministry and Facebook have become synonomous. We have talked about how youth workers can use Facebook for ministry and if a Facebook page should replace a ministry website. One of the more interesting conversations that youth workers are having about online use is the ethical issue of encouraging, supporting, or reporting your own teenagers who are on Facebook that are under the age of 13. For some youth workers, it was a frivolous thing to worry about because we had souls to save and Bibles to read. Others were appalled by the idea of allowing it because it was important to follow the rules (and even the law!).
The rules were obviously put there for a reason, bad things can happen on the Internet, there are a ton of creepers and evil, and adolescent teens do not make the best the decisions much of the time. Plus, they had to deal with the COPPA law.
A study culminated by by SodaHead.com found the following statistics:
- 48% of all teens have lied about their age on Facebook when they signed up. 52% of those teens being 13 years or younger…
- Parents are very protective of their children not being on Facebook, but still 55% of 12 year olds, 32% of 11 year olds, and 19% of 10 year olds are on Facebook
- Most teens trust themselves but most adults do not trust teens. Why the difference?
- 1/3 of parents think that teens should wait till they are 18 to be on Facebook. How does that jive with you?
Well all of that controversy may be going out the window soon because Facebook may be in the process of proving children under the age of 13 to sign up for Facebook under parental supervision. If this does happen, they have a HUGE market of the world that is untapped (legally).
So what is driving all of this? Maybe they figure that they are already facing many regulation charges and fees because of all the students currently signed up with false ages because of lax restrictions by Facebook?
Maybe they are worried about the competition getting to this population before them and in the long-term losing the race?
The under-13 features could enable Facebook and its partners to charge parents for games and other entertainment accessed by their children. Over $400 million of Facebook’s 2011 revenue came from Zynga alone from the social network gaming.
In the end, it all comes down to the Benjamins.
What is your opinion of a restricted under 13 year old Facebook user option?