Is Facebook good for younger kids? - FOX Carolina 21

Is Facebook good for younger kids?

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Facebook currently prohibits kids under the age of 13 on the site. (File/FOX Carolina) Facebook currently prohibits kids under the age of 13 on the site. (File/FOX Carolina)

Facebook may be adding some new "friends," ones that are younger than ever.

The company is now testing ways to allow children under the age of 13 to legally set up profiles on the social networking site.

Right now, Facebook prohibits kids under the age of 13 on the site because of federal regulations, but that ban hasn't been working.

There are an estimated 7.5 million kids already illegally using Facebook.

Now the site is testing out a new plan some are calling "Baby Facebook," a new system that goes directly through the children's parents profiles. Every friend request would go through their parents for approval.

But some say allowing younger kids on Facebook is a bad idea. Professional Family Counselor Ron Reames doesn't "like" Facebook's new testing status.

He said opening the site up to those under 12 years old creates new problems, including a false sense of security for many parents.

"You run the risk of them setting up sub accounts, one mom and dad are looking at, and then another one they are doing all their behind-the-scenes communication on," said Reames.

He said social networking sites can offer some benefits to older children, but only if used with limits -- which he says is a problem for many teenagers. He said like any addiction, starting too early makes the habit harder to break, especially with technology that makes connecting almost constant.

"With smart phones, they have instant access to that site, no matter where they are," said Reames. 

But many parents seem to disagree. A Microsoft Research 2011 study found 36 percent of parents knew their children joined Facebook underage; some even helped their kids log in.

In a statement, Facebook said, "Many recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to enforce age restrictions on the Internet, especially when parents want their children to access online content and services."

The 12 and younger Facebook is just in a testing phase. There's no word on when or if the website will officially invite kids to log on.

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