Facebook pre-teen move gets 'like' tick

By Amelia Wade

Parenting and internet safety groups have welcomed Facebook's move to alter the site's regulations to permit children under 13 to join.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told an education forum in the US that he wanted to allow 10 to 13-year-olds to use the social networking site as a "study tool".

He assured that the company would take a lot of precautions to make sure younger kids were safe.

NetSafe chief executive Martin Cocker welcomed the move and said many children in that age bracket were already using the site.

"In a way, Facebook specifically acknowledging that those children are there is probably a good thing because that then means Facebook needs to think about the environment being suitable for children of that age."

He said children under 13 were already using the site by using a fake birthdate. So when Facebook formally allowed them to make profiles they could set restrictions for pre-teens.

"It's quite responsible of Facebook, really."

Kiwi Families director Rochelle Gribble greeted the move but said parents needed to set rules on how their child used the social networking site.

"If it comes to the point where your child's going to have a Facebook page, then be really open to them about it. Talk to them about it and open it up to them," she said.

"You could have some family rules around it, like 'We don't befriend people who we don't know' or 'We don't put photos of ourselves online'."

Mrs Gribble warned parents to ensure children did not fall victim to false online profiles, like the woman dubbed the "Facebook Predator".

"A good approach is to be aware of what your kids are doing online and to also be involved with educating them - to talk to them about how they know whether someone that they meet online is real."

She said it was important that pre-teens were taught how to use the privacy settings and that it was a good idea for children to ask for their parents' permission before getting a profile.

- NZ Herald

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