Minnesota, USA May 18, 2011- In the past weeks information leaked out that there are 7.5 million under-aged Facebook users -under 13 years old; in my opinion, it is likely that the number exceeds this. It is terrifying that young children are gaining access to this site and using it without any supervision. If you are a parent and do not use an updated parental control tool, you should consider the free "Norton Family Online" software; it allows you to have more control even when you cannot be around to look over your children's shoulders.
In Facebook's defense of this issue, it would delete these accounts if it knew exactly who these young people are; it does not want to make the mistake of deleting active users who is providing accurate information -there is not a 'lie detector' tool as part of the sign-up and it obviously already has issues with truthful identification as it is. This reminds me of the classic cartoon of the dog in front of an old computer screen who is chatting with an old woman while giving her false information; it looks and sounds funny but in reality it is a serious situation. We need to approach young children's internet usage in the same manner.
Some parents know that their under-aged children use Facebook and feel comfortable with it. It makes sense considering knowledge and permission of anything happening is better than not knowing about it at all -at least this is what we would like to think. Like most people agree, children will rebel and we simply would like to safe-guard them. After all, they are not able to see any consequences outside of getting punished for accessing the site rather than the actual harmful situations that could arise from using it.
Unfortunately, we are quickly learning that children feel comfortable engaging in activities when parents are around because they know that they are not paying as close of attention as they should; Parents can see that their children are on Facebook but does that really mean they can see what is actually happening On the other hand, some parents have no idea that their children are using Facebook because children may be extra savvy when it comes to privacy settings. Neither of these situations is safer than the other, so it is our duty to find a new way to get control of children's internet activities.
Norton Family Online gives parents many options on how to monitor children's activities. First, it allows parents to either block out all websites except certain 'allowed' sites -as specified by the parents - or it can block particular websites that are of most concern to the parents. In addition, it keeps a full history of the websites used, the amount of time, and small tidbits of media so that parents can review what children are watching to ensure that it is appropriate. It logs the conversations that children have, the searches a child does, as well as the social networking activity.
What is the best part of this tool It gives parents the option to put a time limit on internet access. Basically, it forces children to do what children should do -be active and be kids.