By Lane Filler
It shouldn’t matter whether Facebook thinks it’s OK for a young child to have a page on its site. Studies, in fact, show that kids have pages no matter what Facebook’s policy is. That’s why the recent news that the company may let children younger than 13 have accounts, possibly with some sort of parental permissions, is so clearly irrelevant.
Corporations are largely conscienceless creations designed to extract profit at any cost. I’ve worked for at least three companies that would have gladly harvested my organs during off-site “trust building exercises” if the bosses could have figured out how to keep me slaving away sans kidneys.
Wise consumers don’t let oil-change companies dictate how often we lube up or believe greeting-card companies when they tell us “Grandparent-in-Law Day” is an important occasion. Wise male consumers do obey florists who arbitrarily dictate days on which we must buy our wives flowers, but that’s a whole different issue.
But we don’t, or shouldn’t, base child-rearing decisions on the decrees of for-profit corporations. This is particularly true with a company caught in a panic spiral because its initial public offering has been about as successful as a new edition of “The Iliad” translated from the original Greek by the cast of “Swamp People.”
A study released by Consumer Reports last June showed that regardless of Facebook’s rules – which ban kids younger than 13 – 7.5 million of the 20 million children with their own Facebook pages were 12 or younger, and 5 million were under the age of 10. Then, last fall, a survey by Microsoft Research showed that of the 12-year-olds who have accounts, 82 percent of their parents knew, and 76 percent of the parents helped the kids sign up.
The reason we restrict the actions of kids is that children, even the really smart ones, are stupid. They don’t understand cause and effect. They don’t grasp the concept of “forever” as it relates to online posts. They don’t realize there is a very small but dedicated group of predators in the world that wants to hurt them. And kids lack impulse control.
Need proof kids are consequence challenged? Think of every dangerous, poorly plotted and utterly insane thing you did between the ages of 8 and 25. Your children’s decision-making process is just as dysfunctional.
It would be fine for mom and dad to let their preteens use their Facebook pages to communicate with family members and, when appropriate, friends, through the friends’ parents’ accounts. The kids wouldn’t feel comfortable posting things they don’t want you to see, which is good. You don’t want them posting anything they don’t want you to see. The downside of this is that your children would be able to enjoy all the really ill and evil dreck that makes you and your friends ROTFLYAO (Rolling On The Floor Laughing Your A– Off). That’s probably why some parents help or allow young kids to get their own pages: Not doing so would inconvenience mom and dad.
Don’t get your oil changed every 3,000 miles, regardless of what Happy Lube suggests, unless the carmaker’s instructions agree. Don’t buy cards on “Cousin Day,” even if Card-A-Rama says you should. And don’t let your young children have a social networking page, even if Facebook says it’s a good move. Facebook said its stock at $38 a share was a good move, and look how that turned out.
Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.