While being interviewed on the “Today” show Michelle Obama, the USA’s first lady frankly admitted that she prohibits her children to use Facebook. This restriction of using the social network stirred up the discussion about the rightness of such a limitation.
The representatives of Facebook support Michelle’s opinion about unreasonabless of permission for small children to use the social network. The minimum appropriate age was denoted as 13. Michelle’s daughters are both underage. Malia Obama is 12, and Sasha Obama is 9. As a matter of fact, Facebook’s own Statement of Rights and Responsibilities announced that these girls are too young to have Facebook profiles.
Below is a quotation of Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Facebook, who said:
This restriction is both for safety reasons and to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Facebook has systems in place at the point of sign-up to prevent people who identify themselves as under the age of 13 from creating accounts. It’s a violation of our terms to provide false birth date info, and we have community verification systems after sign-up to help ID people who are doing this so we can take appropriate action.
The announcement of the first lady was welcomed on the one hand, and strongly criticized on the other hand.
The New York Daily News quoted David Rodriguez, a New York father of a 10-year-old boy, „Safety is my biggest concern. There are a lot of inappropriate things being sent around. You hear about things like the craigslist killings, and it makes you even more hesitant.“
In the meantime, Sylvie Branch, a Yahoo! News contributor, is assured that children under 13 should also be allowed to have their Facebook profiles and use the social network but provided that they are supervised by their elders, „Overall, my kids have proved to me that it is possible to use Facebook as the tool that it is and not become obsessed, “she said. „The key, I believe, is to keep them engaged in life. The three of them are friends on Facebook and that keeps everyone accountable. My 12-year-old knows that what he says online, can and will be held against him.“