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Should Young Kids Be Allowed to Join Facebook?

Some of us post photos of our offspring at every milestone, from sonogram to birth to first steps to first slurps of puree. These Instagram and Facebook photos are the modern-day equivalent of baby books. (Maybe someday our kids will look back and feel unloved if they lack a social media lineage, just like some of us do when we realize all our parents saved from our childhood was a sticky handprint from Kindergarten art class.)

Of course, we can control the social media conversation when they're babies. We can hide photos from nosy Aunt Mildred or fail to tag other people's children at birthday parties. But what about when they get older and want unsupervised pages of their very own?

Mark Zuckerberg has targeted a new market: kids. According to Politico, Facebook is in the process of patenting a system for letting children create accounts with parental supervision, "a sign that the social network may be moving closer to extending membership to kids under 13."

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Zuckerberg's patent application for the system was made public on Thursday, and it has been in the works since 2012.

In 2011, Zuckerberg discussed the importance of kids joining social media, saying it will be a "fight" he takes on at some point, provided precautions are in place to keep kids safe.

Safe? In a world where even adults (even celebrities!) cope with cyber-bullying, this could be a challenge too great even for Facebook's wunderkind CEO (who, it should be noted, began coding in sixth grade).

Should kids have their own Facebook pages? Is it even possible for parents to enforce whether they do or not? It's easy to contemplate a completely separate Facebook, called Facebook Jr., geared specifically toward the impressionable under-13 set. It seems genius and sad at once. But as social media innovations skew younger and younger (hello, Snapchat!), it seems like just a matter of time — not age.


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