It’s a well-known fact amongst parents. Children will try to do whatever they feel necessary to ensure parents’ rules and regulations (and other authority figures). It may not always work, but seldom does it. This may mean sneaking candy, staying up late, or playing with children they shouldn’t.
There are several other seemingly innocent activities that children want to partake in that they are not allowed for one reason or another. Websites such as Facebook and MySpace are included in these. Yet these sites are very enticing-Facebook in particular. There is a wide range of games free on Facebook that are attractive for children and younger users, and the site can allow young children to get directly in contact with their friends. When these children are perhaps too young to have a cell phone, this ability may be highly desirable.
The reason for banning children under 13 from sites like these is that they can expose children to certain dangers. There are predators online who prey on children, often lying to them and convincing them that they too are children. ‘Grooming’ can sometimes take place, which places the child in a particular danger.
For that reason, most websites do not allow younger children to join, and those who are permitted must have parental permission. Unfortunately, the only way the children are prevented from entering these sites is by using the birth checker’s date, which screens children and does not allow them to join when their date of birth is after the cut-off.
When children wish to join these sites, they have to lie about their date of birth. The date of birth is the only check that is performed. Once they have a full adult account on a site such as these, there are no protections, no limits on what they can and can’t do or on what they can see.
Perhaps a better option would be for sites such as these to allow younger children to access the services. It is known that children will be present, it is possible to tailor services to their needs.
For instance, when a child under 13 signs up using their actual birth date, they could be assigned a limited account. This account may be restricted by having preset security settings limiting who has access to their info and photos and who may interact with them. By merely making these accounts unsearchable, limiting all access to those on their friend’s list, and removing specific features (such as the ability to chat with other, unknown game players), children would be far safer.
In short, it is almost impossible for the sites themselves to prevent children from signing up because that relies on the children being completely honest. Instead, they must use parental supervision to keep them away-or else, as sites such as Facebook are now considering, a policy change may be needed. Because if you can’t keep children away, you can at least allow them to join a place that would keep them safe.