Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Says Children Under 13 Should Be Allowed On Facebook

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Mark Zuckerberg Says Children Under 13 Should Be Allowed On Facebook

The Facebook CEO explained his views at an education summit this week.

According to Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, children under 13 should be permitted to use Facebook. Why? Because of the potential of Facebook and other social networking sites as educational tools.

At the NewSchools Venture Funds Summit, which took place early this week in Burlingame, CA, Zuckerberg discussed how that he hopes to both to improve the education system and make the Internet more accessible. The former Harvard University student, who has donated $100 million to the Newark, New Jersey school system, said, “Education is clearly the biggest thing that will drive how the economy improves over the long term.” In addition, he stated, “In the future, software and technology will enable people to learn a lot from their fellow students.”

Given the importance of education, and the fact that technology can help cultivate learning, it is no surprise that Zuckerberg wants young students to be allowed in social networking sites where they could the ability to learn from and with their peers. Unfortunately, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits websites from signing up users under the age of 13. However, the CEO said that he wants to change this precautionary measure saying, “That will be a fight we take on at some point. My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age.”

Should we start rallying and protesting so that elementary schoolchildren can join Facebook so that they can learn more…? I am not sold.

When Facebook started, it was exclusively for college students. I was an undergrad at the time when it’s popularity began to take off and I am sure my classmates can attest to how much classwork did not get done because of the Facebook. Sure, I have seen and participated in several spirited debates on controversial articles that have been Share-ed, and contentious Status that have been Like-ed that have undoubtedly contributed to my college experience (but have also simultaneously taken away precious time from my college studies). Most of the time, when I logged into Facebook, there was much more procrastination than education taking place.

Since I doubt (and some studies would agree) that Facebook has a positive effect on grades and academic productivity, I do not think I can get behind Zuckerberg on this issue just yet. When asked how potential Facebook users under 13 would use the site he said, “Because of the restrictions we haven’t even begun this learning process. If they’re lifted then we’d start to learn what works. We’d take a lot of precautions to make sure that they [younger kids] are safe.”

Fair enough. If the rules change then we might see what Facebook has in store young students. But I would not call for that change if the main reason behind it would be for schoolchildren to log in and do their homework… But what do you think? Do you see academic potential in Facebook? Can schoolchildren use what has been a major procrastination tool for college students for academic good? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter.

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