As most people are aware, it used to be that if you were under the age of 18, you were unable to post publicly on Facebook. But Facebook has changed that policy, and now anyone between the ages of 13 and 17 can post publicly and also have followers of their profiles.
Mashable writer Kurt Wagner explained the details further, “[p]reviously, teens using Facebook were only able to share content with friends, friends of friends and custom groups like ‘family.’ Now, they can choose to share posts to anyone on Facebook, just like users 18 and older.”
Undoubtedly, this will case some sort of uproar via social media and in the homes of people who have children between the ages of 13 and 17. While the teen must manually change the audience setting on her post to “public” before updating her status, the decision to allow juveniles to publicly post is weak. Facebook claims that teens are the “savviest people using social media” and thus they “want to be heard.”
As a former teacher who taught individuals at this age (and younger), I have tremendous, tremendous respect for their curiosity, their take on things in the world, their intelligence, and so forth. You can see clearly, I am a huge fan of kids and it was a sheer honor to have been a teacher. It was a privilege to have played a small role in their lives. That said, I personally do not think this change is a good idea. And it isn’t because I am going to pull the “they could be stalked/kidnapped” card, but rather young people don’t always have the ability to stop impulsive behavior, especially when it comes to sounding off on the internet, posting embarrassing photos of bad antics, or allowing their friends to use their social media profiles. For instance, I had a dear student who was sweet and funny and smart. But she made the reckless error of allowing her friends to post things under her name on Facebook. She is now 17. In any event, even though these posts were only shared with friends and friends of friends, her pals would oftentimes put up somewhat, if not downright, inappropriate posts under her name and with her image affixed to it! I had a long conversation with her one evening, warning her of the ramifications of allowing this to happen, letting her know that when you throw things up on Facebook, you really lose control over how it is shared and with whom. I am not sure she understood the full gravity of what I was telling her, and that was worrisome. Alas, I did the best I could and kindly warned her of how things can get ugly via social media. I did it to try and protect her, because I care about her.
Again, kids are amazing, but we can’t forget that they are, alas, kids. Kids are allowed to make mistakes, but when it comes to social media mistakes can be imprinted online forever. And that should serve as a reminder to all of us, because I am confident that, like me, you have seen things posted by your friends or a family member that left you scratching your head and asking yourself, “Why would they post/say that online?!?” So, yeah, this sort of thing is important for adults to remind themselves about, too.
But back to the kiddos . . .
There are, luckily, ways to control this sort of thing through parental controls.
Here are some options:
Android Parental Control
Are you a parent with children between the ages of 13 and 17? If so, what do you think about Facebook’s changes?