Young kids sign up for Facebook with help from their parents

  • By Jessica Tobacman Chicago Tribune
  • Friday, January 13, 2012 6:31pm
  • Life

Nancy Gerstein is a savvy marketing executive who knows a lot about Facebook. She supervises corporate Facebook pages for her company’s clients.

So Gerstein had no qualms when her 11-year-old daughter recently told her that she had created an account on the social media site while she was at a sleepover with a friend. She even helped her daughter finish the page.

“Compared to some of the other things out there, it’s fairly innocent. The adult stuff is supposedly blocked,” she said.

Gerstein is one of many parents across the nation who are helping their preteen children get on Facebook despite the company’s requirement that users must be at least 13 years old. These parents say Facebook is useful and popular among their children.

Kira Kurka’s 9-year-old daughter joined Facebook during a sleepover with friends, and Kurka, who lives with her family in Chicago, helped her 11-year-old son become a member.

“I want him to embrace technology, and I think social media is very powerful,” Kurka said.

A study titled “Why Parents Help Their Children Lie to Facebook About Age: Unintended Consequences of the ‘Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,”’ also found that 55 percent of parents of 12-year-olds report that their child has a Facebook account.

A majority of those parents knew when their underage child signed up and helped in creating the account, according to the study, which was published in the Internet journal First Monday, firstmonday.org.

“The report also highlights the difficulty in implementing age restrictions on the Internet and underlines the need to continually work to keep kids safe online,” Colaco said in a statement.

Parents across the country, including Gerstein and Kurka, are helping their children get around the restriction because they see the value of the wealth of information and communication on the Internet.

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