Seven-year-olds on Facebook?

Facebook, which has revolutionized marketing and transformed the social life of teens and adults, is looking to target children.(1)

It’s a terrible idea. The wildly popular social networking site isn’t safe for children. For one thing, they are particularly vulnerable to Facebook’s brand of marketing, which leverages personal information to deliver targeted ads and encourages peer-to-peer marketing. Kids shouldn’t be subjected to a barrage of advertising honed specifically to who they are—their friends, their interests, and their online behavior—or be notified every single time a friend “likes” a movie, game, video, or any other sort of product.

Let’s tell Facebook to stay away from children. Sign our petition telling Facebook to keep its current policy of barring users under the age of 13. And if you’re on Facebook, please “like” our page, “No FB for Kids Under 13.”

Even if Facebook dumps the advertising, the site isn’t safe. In 2011, one million minors were threatened or harassed on Facebook.(2) Girls ages 8 to12 who are heavy users of social media have fewer good feelings about their friendships.(3) It’s hard enough for adolescents to cope successfully with online relationships and encounters. Younger children have not yet developed the maturity and judgment essential to managing the perils of cyber “friendships” or grasping the potential consequences of sharing personal information. But if Facebook starts targeting kids, the pressure to join the site will be intense—to the detriment of their social, emotional, and cognitive development.

But the good news is, it doesn’t have to happen. Facebook is vulnerable to public pressure right now. If enough of us speak out—especially those of us on Facebook—we can prevent the company from ever targeting kids. So please sign our petition. And join our Facebook page, “No FB for Kids Under 13.”

(1) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303506404577444711741019238.html?mod=WSJ_Tech_LEFTTopNews
(2) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/june/electronics-computers/state-of-the-net/facebook-concerns/index.htm
(3) http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2012-02084-001