Run and hide, the pre-teens are coming to Facebook… Maybe
Facebook might be planning to open up their platform to the pre-teens; could this be their way of enticing back the youth that they are losing? Between 2011 and 2014, Facebook reportedly lost more than 3 million teenagers, and that’s after taking account of those who would’ve grown out of the age range in that time.
The new patent, which was filed by Facebook in November 2012, would allow parents to authorise and supervise accounts for their children who are aged 13 years and younger. Parents would have to verify their own identity first as well as their relationship with the child. By doing this they would be able to control what content and applications their child can access as well as who they can be friends with.
There have been a lot of speculations over why Facebook is getting older; the main theory being that as it becomes more popular with older generations so it’s not seen as “cool” anymore, forcing teenagers to abandon ship. Nothing makes something less cool than when your parents and grandparents join in. Having your older relatives being able to see everything you get up to is unsurprisingly, not what the youth of today (or any day) craves. This lack of freedom is causing them to flock to more visual, simple platforms like Instagram and SnapChat.
Given this, it’s unlikely that allowing under-13 year olds to join Facebook under parental supervision will entice a younger crowd to join the platform. Although the plans are only speculated, it is far more likely that the new patent is more to ensure online safety and protect children’s data. It is estimated that there are currently 5.6 million underage users currently on Facebook who have lied about their age, often helped by their parents.
It is possible that by only allowing pre-teens to create accounts that are under full control of their parents, it will take away the fun of the platform by having all content and conversations monitored and censored according to the parent’s views. But as previously mentioned, it’s unlikely to be an attempt to reclaim younger
It will be very interesting to see how it affects the demographics of Facebook if these hypothetical plans were put into action. Regardless of which way it goes, it will almost definitely cause some change, which may teach us a lot about how freedom influences children’s behaviour.audiences, but to comply with privacy acts and laws, making it safer for those who do want to join as they wouldn’t have to lie.