Kids and FB

An article on CNN about Facebook’s potential lifting of the 13-year-old age requirement¬†caught my attention today as I was eating quinoa salad and pondering what to do next on this lovely summer day.

A few comments of my own:

  1. This, alongside FB’s recent IPO offering, is yet another reminder of how not-free some of these free web resources are. I love GoogleDocs, but Google’s hold on my life continues to frighten me. This does not stop me from using these resources with students, but it does give me pause and make me think we should be teaching our students how to be critical web consumers.
  2. Yes, FB is doing this for money. Duh. But kids have been targeted by advertising for decades. Hello, Saturday morning cartoons!? I don’t think banning younger kids from FB is the answer… clearly, that hasn’t been working. But I do think the responsibility falls on parents and teachers to help their kids and students think critically about their uses of facebook and similar media.
  3. The rhetoric both of this piece and, more so, of the comments that follow it worry me. The fear of today’s adults about things like facebook and social media corrupting the minds of our youth is only standing in the way of our ability to educate people about these tools. That’s what they are — tools. It’s about being a smart user instead of a passive one. This is true of facebook just like it’s true of email, video games, movies, TV, and yes, even literature.

I feel torn every time I see news stories on this topic, but I always come to the same conclusion — be smart, people.