The Washington Post

Facebook and kids: a business bet

(Paul Sakuma/AP)

Experts say it’s hard to determine if parents would be more willing to let their children under 13 sign up if Facebook changed its age rules. But the numbers offer financial promise for the social networking giant.

About 60 percent of 12- and 13-year-olds own a cellphone, according to the Pew Internet and & American Life Project. An older study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 31 percent of 8- to 10-year-olds own a cellphone. This is one of the most active group of cellphone users — youth send an average of 60 text messages a day.

Younger and younger kids are using mobile phones for texts and apps. (Melina Mara/THE WASHINGTON POST)

“We are finding that 50 percent of smart phones are actually connecting to Facebook every hour of every day, which perhaps is not surprising when you see Facebook icons on the home pages of most Web sites,” Sandvine chief executive Dave Caputo said during a social networking conference in Canada on Monday.

Facebook’s trial balloon Monday on the controversial idea of allowing children under 13 on its network was immediately met with resistance from some lawmakers and child development experts.

Child safety advocates such as Common Sense media and experts like Kathryn Montgomery of American University worry that young minds will be targeted by advertisers. As long as parents give permission, sites like Facebook could collect personal information about children that could be converted into tailored ads, they say.


Technology’s great divide: Two schools of thought

Parents help underage kids get onto Facebook, survey finds

Kid apps explode on smartphones and tablets. But are they good for your children?

Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.



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