Consider this section of an “about me” article from a student:

“Hello, my name is [—–], I am 10 years old and I live in [—-]. My hobbies are soccer, music, and Facebook…”

Facebook has turned into a hobby and it breaks my heart. What’s worse is seeing even younger children perceive the Internet as primarily about Facebook.

The problem arises from the fact that Facebook has become a portal for not just connecting with friends, but for sending messages, playing games, storing photos/videos, and in the not-too-far-future it will incorporate a payment system.

It has even become a verb amongst its users: Facebook me; Facebook the picture; Facebook the party. Other odd phrases include: “friend me” – add as a friend on Facebook; “profile-pic it” – upload an image to Facebook and use it as the profile picture.

Facebook, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

Facebook isn’t doing this to be malicious. ┬áIn all fairness, it attempts to prevent children from using Facebook at an early age. It requires that users be at least 13 years of age to create an account. There’s a reason for that particular age and I believe it’s because of the level of education and awareness that students are expected to have by then.

Typical fourth and fifth graders just aren’t prepared to use Facebook. Sure they are tech-savvy enough to navigate the site, add photos, and install applications. But they’re too young to understand the implications of using a social networking site and how it can affect their “online reputation”. Facebook has become a popular venue for bullies to find victims and do what they do best. Cyber predators and hackers have also profited from this network.

Too many children are allowed to have Facebook accounts a young age, and a lot of them without parent supervision. The “dangers” of Facebook don’t solely come from the company’s controversial terms and conditions. The dangers arise from the users’ ignorance and lack of awareness in using social networking sites.

It is not enough to be computer savvy nowadays, we need to be media literate and prepared to adapt to the imminent blending of the physical and virtual worlds.

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