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Should Preteens be Allowed on Facebook?

Photo courtesy of MiikaS/Flickr

In its latest move toward achieving total world domination, Facebook has announced that it is developing technology that would allow children under the age of 13 to use the social media site under parental supervision.

Although the site currently prohibits under-13s from creating Facebook accounts, many kids simply lie about their age and join anyway — which explains why I’ve received friend requests from some of my elementary-age family members.

To be honest, I was much more comfortable using Facebook before it turned in to a worldwide phenomenon.

When I first saw parents — and even grandparents! — commenting on their kids’ photos and activity, I thought it a little weird. When my friends’ junior-high age siblings started sending me friend requests, I thought it was even weirder.

But, the reality is that whether you’re 7 or 70, the Internet — and social networking — is becoming an integral part of life in the modern age. It’s easy for me to say, “Well, I didn’t use anything like that when I was in second grade,” but nothing like Facebook existed when I was in second grade.

It’s the same story with cellphones. I didn’t have a cellphone until I was in high school. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see a kid with a Transformers lunchbox in one hand and an iPhone in the other.

We might live in rural Montana, but that doesn’t mean electronic communication is any less present in our lives. In fact, I would argue that it is even more important here than it is in more urban areas. I can barely get cell reception in the house I grew up in, but I can always send an email or a Facebook message.

So, while I can understand why many parents are nervous about their kids jumping into the world of social media at a young age, I think it’s important to teach kids how to use this technology safely and appropriately before they delve into it on their own.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

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