In order to open your own Facebook account, you have to be over the age of 13.
According to Facebook’s Help Centre, creating an account with false information (eg. saying you’re 13 when you’re actually nine) is a “violation of our terms.”
If you know someone under the age of 13 operating a Facebook account, you can fill out an online form which will have that account promptly deleted.
LISTEN: Robin Bailey and Bec Sparrow discuss raising kids in an online world on The Well. Post continues below.
Age is one of the only restrictions when it comes to opening a Facebook page. It would be logical to assume that it has something to do with online safety, protecting young children from bullying or exposure to inappropriate content. Perhaps the decision has been made based on developmental research, whereby kids under the age of 13 cannot understand the implications of engaging in an online world. Maybe their frontal lobes are not advanced enough to see the long term consequences of posting a photo or a status.
But, no. That’s not the reason at all.
Rather, the decision has not been made by Mark Zuckerberg. The age restriction is enforced by law. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which was passed in 1998, serves to protect any child under the age of 13 from having their data collected. That includes name, address, phone number, images, screen name, and video or audio files.
Any website or online service that does obtain such information, must have a strict age limit.
But that, of course, cannot work if a 10-year-old claims they are 13.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, "Federal law cannot protect their personal information from being collected and shared with party advertisers," if they are falsifying their age online.
So just because a child has had their 13th birthday, does not in any way mean they are developmentally ready for the world of Facebook.
All it means is that Facebook can legally sell their data to a third party.
This is information that every parent should know before handing them the metaphorical keys to a space they might not be emotionally or intellectually equipped for yet.
What age do you think children are ready for social media?