It is true that children fib about their age in order to join social media sites before they turn thirteen. Sometimes they even do so with the full knowledge of their folks. But not all parents are so indulgent. Take the Obama family, for instance.
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will not allow their daughters–Sasha (10) and Malia (13)– to join Facebook. “Why would we want to have a whole bunch of people who we don’t know knowing our business?” the president said. “That doesn’t make much sense.”
As usual, it’s difficult to argue with the president’s logic. His privacy concerns may well be justified, considering Facebook’s highly controversial history of sharing user information. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act makes it illegal for Sasha to join the site but Malia is eligible, though not without her famous parents’ permission, writes The Huffington Post.
The president, however, has not definitively ruled Facebook out for his daughters in the future. “We’ll see how they feel in four years,” he said.
The First Family is said to enjoy their leisure activities, but they may be slightly behind the times when it comes to digital gadgets. “And lest anyone think the private residence of the most powerful man in the world comes with all the latest gadgets and gizmos, President Obama says the technologically antiquated second-floor family quarters only recently saw a DVR installed. ‘We’re a little bit behind,’ he tells us dryly,” reports People Magazine.
No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, the First Family’s reluctance to let their daughters use Facebook seems like a reasonable decision.
Putting the fame issue aside for a moment, children often reveal too much about themselves on social media sites, which could potentially expose them to trouble. But who can blame them? Children and tweens possess little real world experience, so the mistakes they make on social media sites like Facebook occur simply because they are naive, not because they are knowingly putting themselves in harm’s way.
That’s why the whole parental consent thing may be a very good idea. After all, children are only young once, and the Internet doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
Consumer Reports Magazine figures show that in 2011, 7.5 million children used Facebook even though they were not yet thirteen years old. A New York University survey found that 55% of American parents with 12-year-olds said that their child had a Facebook account. 76% even helped them to register for one.
So when considering a child’s safety and online privacy, parents can do a lot worse than ask themselves the following question: “What Would President Obama Do?”
Talk To Us! Do you agree with President Obama or do you feel he should let his daughters use Facebook when they turn 13?
Image: Michelle Pictures