Facebook could lower age restriction

Children younger than 13 are not permitted to join Facebook. This could, however, change.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - Facebook managers were on Monday rumoured to be considering lowering the age limit on the social networking site.

Children younger than 13 are currently not permitted to join the website.

TechCentral's Craig Wilson explained, "There is talk of potentially tying parents' accounts to children's accounts so that parents can actually monitor and control what sort of applications and friends younger users add."

Wilson believed lowering the age restriction might not be a bad idea.

"It's important from an education perspective that youngsters become aware of the perils of online existence as soon as possible and perhaps getting them on is not a bad idea as long as it's done in a controlled and sensible fashion."

Federal law in the United States requires companies to obtain parental consent if they want to collect information about those children,_ CBS News _reports.

Such information collection is paramount to Facebook, with any photos or status updates that children post on Facebook possibly considered as information collection.

Many companies think the parental-consent requirement too burdensome, so they simply ban all children under 13 instead.

That ban is difficult to enforce as in many cases, parents themselves help children skirt the issue by setting up profiles for them and lying about their ages.

An estimated 7,5 million children of 900 million users are believed to be under the age of 13.

In a statement, Facebook noted that 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."

"We are in continuous dialogue with stakeholders, regulators and other policymakers about how best to help parents keep their kids safe in an evolving online environment," the company said.

The report came just two weeks after Facebook began trading as a public company.

Its stock price supposedly fell partly because of concerns about its ability to keep increasing revenue and make money from its growing mobile audience.