Facebook is reportedly developing technology to allow children under 13 to use the social networking powerhouse with parental supervision. According to the Wall Street Journal, the idea of connecting children’s accounts to their parents’ accounts and allowing parents to decide who their kids ‘friend’ are just two new guidelines being considered.
Facebook currently restricts users under 13.
However, Mashable reports as many as 38 percent of children already on Facebook are under 12, according to studies. A recent Consumer Reports study estimates 5.6 million children under 13 are already logged onto the social network.
Tim Woda, a Digital Safety Expert and the co-founder of uKnow.com, a provider of parental intelligence systems says parents need to know any time their child is online they are at risk for identity theft, online predators, and cyberbullying.
According to Stopcyberbullying.org, cyberbullying occurs when “a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones”.
At least 20 percent of school children report repeated online harassment from peers, according to Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, people who are bullied have a higher risk of depression and anxiety. In one study, adults bullied in their youth were 3 times more likely to have thoughts of suicide.
“The issue of bullying is something none of us can ignore, and it is important to educate children at a young age to hopefully prevent them from getting bullied or becoming a bully. Most of us used to think of bullying as school yard fights, but the Internet and Social Media has changed the landscape of bullying, making the issues even tougher to tackle.”, says Laura Clarizio, a former television reporter at WPRI Ch. 12 in Providence and WB Ch. 56 in Boston who now writes the children’s series “If I Had A Magic Carpet”.
The underlying issue in her educational series geared to keep kids safe is bullying. Clarizio who lives in Rhode Island, tells Examiner that book two in the series is for kids in second and third grade, a crucial time when bullying often begins.
“I have covered numerous tragedies involving children. Bullying was one of the topics I often covered and I remember an expert saying to me bullies are not born that way, they are bred that way. I created the children’s book series hoping to keep children safe. ‘If I Had a Magic Carpet II- Key to Kindness’ gives very specific information to children about bullying.”, Clarizio adds.
Last year Rhode Island legislators passed The Safe Schools Act to provide a statewide policy of disciplinary actions in response to online bullying, including the prompt notification of parents of both the victim and the bully.