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Nicole G

Page history last edited by Nicole Givens 9 years, 3 months ago


Minors’ use of Facebook



Nicole Givens  


Banner that says Facebook is rated "G" for "All Ages"



                                                                          Two young girls on Facebook



The topic that I chose to write about and research is about the concerns of underage Facebook users. With the new trend of social networking through Facebook and the high level of transparency and privacy issues that minors face with having a Facebook account, this topic is very relevant to our culture today. I also chose this topic since I have an interest in learning more about the negative aspects and concerns about children using Facebook. On a weekly basis I interact, listen, and coach soccer to young girls who have Facebook accounts so this topic is something that I hear them talk about on a regular basis.


What is Facebook?


According to Josie Myers (2011), Facebook is a social networking website that allows people to connect with friends, family and business associates. It is the largest of the social networking sites. According to Wikipedia (2011), Facebook was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with three of his college roommates. Initially the websites membership was limited to those college students at Harvard, eventually expanding to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. Gradually, students at other universities were allowed to join before opening to high school students, and, finally, to anyone 13 years old and over. "Facebook allows anyone who declares themselves to be at least 13 years old to become a registered user of the website” (Wikipedia, 2011). The key word in this statement is “declares.” This puts girls and boys at a high risk for over exposing themselves to anyone that has access to a Facebook account. Facebook users can create a pofile that shows their friends and personal information about themselves. Users have a choice to have their profile "in a network," meaning that everyone within that network can view their profile. The profile information includes status, friends, photos, notes, groups, and The Wall. Users can also search for friends by e-mail address, school, or just by typing in their name. Once people become friends, they are able to see each others profile information. 


Minors use of Facebook to communicate:


This topic is related to communication studies since Facebook is a social networking website where people, of all ages, specifically minors, can communicate with anyone in the world. Underage minors that have Facebook accounts can communicate with friends, send public or private messages, and chat with one another. It is one of the most popular forms of digital communication today. Social-networking sites like Facebook are incredibly popular with teens. Ransohoff (2011) noted, "Recent surveys report that 71 percent of teens and 34 percent of 11- and 12-year-olds have a profile on a social-networking site (even though kids under 13 are not officially allowed on either site).” King notes that "online social networking has completely changed the way young people communicate" (King, 2009, p.36). The article talks about a study regarding students' desire and motivation to use Facebook to communicate with others via Facebook. The article includes interviews that were conducted by about 50 students from the San Francisco Bay Area. Interestingly, the study found that minors who use Facebook experiment with their self-image for social networking purposes, while MySpace was primarily used to experiment only their self-image. Most of the students in the study, ages 12-19, discovered social networking when they first entered middle school. Less than 5% of the participants had social networking accounts of any kind before the sixth grade; however, by the end of seventh grade, 70% had created their own accounts (King, 2009, p. 38). This is an astounding number that is rapidly increasing among teens. 



CMU researcher explores Facebook's privacy dangers for teens



The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA): 


According to wikipedia, the COPPA Law is a U.S. federal law, effective April 21, 2000, that applies to the online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction from children under 13 years of age. The law gives details about what a website operator must include in a privacy policy, when and how to seek verifiable consent from a parent or guardian, and what responsibilities an operator has to protect children's privacy and safety online including restrictions on the marketing to those under 13. While children under 13 can legally give out personal information with their parents' permission, many websites altogether disallow underage children from using their services due to the amount of paperwork involvedThe Act applies to websites and online services operated for commercial purposes that are either directed to children under 13 or have actual knowledge that children under 13 are providing information online. Here is a video that discusses internet privacy and mentions the COPPA Law. Ransohoff (2011) notes,unfortunately, kids who know that you're not supposed to post private information online “expose themselves not just to predators and creeps, but also to bullying, identity theft, and other potentially negative consequences at school and, later on, in their work lives.” Monica Vila, co-founder of theonlinemom.com says “A better strategy is to work with him to help him make smarter decisions online.” The website goes on to talk about the five most common harmful mistakes underage children have when it comes to social networking: Broadcasting Personal Information to the Entire Internet, Sharing Passwords, Befriending Strangers, Baring Their Souls, and Forgetting Their Futures. 



A teen online chatting with a "friend."

The Behavior and Health Risks:


According to Kirschner and Karpinski (2010), our modern youth, often referred to as digital natives or Homo Zappiens, with respect to their ability to simultaneously process multiple channels on information, has dramatically changed. Kids and teens today are able to multi-task. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of documentation and studies have shown that processing different streams of information can lead to behavior problems and have a negative affect on learning. This article presents the preliminary results of an exploratory survey involving Facebook use and academic performance as measured by Grade Point Average (GPA). The survey study also factored in hours spent studying per week. The results showed that minors that use Facebook reported having lower GPAs and spend fewer hours per week focusing and studying on their education than those who are not Facebook users. It is no surprise that those students who spend hours on end chatting with friends, sending pictures, taking surveys, and leaving comments with whom they saw at school for majority of the day, don't perform as well in school. 


A teen disappointed with her grades


Dr. Himanshu Tyagi, member of the West London Mental Health Trust, said that Facebook can be harmful and that Facebook might cause teens to place less value on their real lives, have a greater chance of acting on impulse with the click of a mouse, and can even show suicidal behavior. He goes on to say that people who were born after 1990 never got to live in a world without widespread use of the internet. He anticipates that more people, in this generation today, especially, that psychiatrists are not fully prepared to help these young people with their internet-related health problems. Although Facebook offers may social benefits for teens, teens get used to the world moving very fast with relationships being disposed or a change in identity that can be made with a click of a mouse. He describes online social networking as a way for teens to see the real world as being "boring and unstimulating." Teens are sharing their online identities instead of their real identity through face-to-face communication. 


Protection and Privacy:


Cyber stalking and sexual abuse are the two top concerns for children who use Facebook. Gilbert Cruz (2009), noted that there is a misunderstanding that sexual abuse on the Internet happens mostly from older adults, when in fact, 90-94% of solicitations online happen to underage victims from their peers. Reports taken by the Online Victimization study done at the Crimes Against Children Research Center reported that about one in five or one is seven minors are sexually solicited online. Teasing and harassing are among the top solicitation acts online and happen especially on social networking cites, such as Facebook. However, 69% of solicitations involve no attempt at offline contact. Handley (2010) addresses child protection on Facebook and introduces the “panic button.” Handley (2010) noted, the “panic button,” advocated by British child-protection advocates, is demanding that Facebook should install a “so-called panic button on its pages-a box that people could click to immediately access information about internet safety topics."  Facebook agreed to install a “Report/Block This Person” tab for British Facebook users but what about the rest of us? Facebook has resisted calls to move forward and include an actual panic button on all the pages of the website. Some critics argue that a panic button would not necessarily be more effective at stopping cyber predators. Parry Aftab, a lawyer who specializes in Internet privacy noted that the panic button really isn't a panic button at all, it is a link to Internet safety materials when things go wrong. Many times teens don't realize they're in danger when they're involved in risky online situations. He states, "These kids go willingly to a meeting where they don't know the person. They just think they're the exception." Research has shown that cyber bullying is the most common risk minors face online. Debbie Frost, a spokeswoman for Facebook says that people need to be educated about online safety and that the lesson that you learn in life about “don’t talk to strangers” needs to be practices in an online environment. In today’s society, online harassment should be a top priority since the outcome of someone that has experienced cyber bullying can have negative, and possibly deadly, affects. 


Taraszow, Aristodemou, Shitta, Laouris, and Arsoy discuss how young people deal with privacy issues on the social networking site, Facebook. The article examines a study which looks into the type of personal contact information that minors disclose online. Gender differences are looked at as well. Taraszow (2010) notes, most people, regardless of their gender, have their full name, facial pictures, where the live and their email address. The study found that males are more likely to include their cell phone numbers, home address and their instant message screen names to chat with others; friends or strangers. Our youth seems to be unaware of the dangers they can potentially face, especially when accepting friend requests from strangers or people who they might know. A child doesn’t realize that their privacy is taken away when he or she posts a message or updates a status on Facebook. Unfortunately there can be harmful consequences when someone’s privacy is invaded by someone else. 


Puzzanghera noted for the Los Angeles Times that Facebook was "actively considering" whether to again allow third-party applications to request mobile phone numbers and home addresses from users younger than 18. Facebook stated that some users may want to share their cellphone number with an online application to receive text message alerts on special deals, or allow an Internet shopping site to have  their home addresses to make the checkout process faster (Puzzanghera, 2011, p. 1). Facebook is working on being able to disable the feature and revise the permission screen so that minors don't have access to list their personal information for third parties to use. Ed Markey, a representative from Massachusetts weighing in on Facebook's privacy for minors stated, "With children involved, it was crucial for Facebook to get the policy right" (Puzzanghera, 2011, p.1). He urged the company not to allow applications to have access to contact information for minors. Markey goes on to say, "I don't believe that applications on Facebook should get this information from teens, and I encourage Facebook to wall off access to teens' contact information if they enable this new feature" ((Puzzanghera, 2011, p.1). 


What the Future Holds:


Robert Schlesinger's article is about the social networking cites, Facebook and Myspace, and how police, school officials, and even potential employers are keeping a close eye on individuals profiles. These students and potential job seekers are complaining that there is a lack of privacy and don't think that a future boss should be able to tap in and view information and see pictures giving details about what you did over the weekend with friends. Schlesinger (2009), goes on to say that he got a kick out of the following statement: "In recent years, school administrators have blames some campus fights on Internet taunts and urged parents to keep watch on their children;s computer activity. But students who use the Web to let their 500 closest friends know what they are dong at all times are sometimes surprised that police are watching, too." Unfortunately, young job seekers forget to put their privacy settings on private so that future bosses cannot view information, however, some are catching on that there may be a lot more that the person is hiding or not willing to share with everyone. It can be a lose-lose situation for students who have a Facebook account, regardless if their privacy settings are private or not, who eventually may be looking for jobs.  


The Social Impact:


As Facebook emerged and became increasingly popular, American teenagers began using the cite to socialize with their peers and reveal their "identity." Teens use Facebook for a wide array of everyday social practices such as flirting, gossiping, joking around, sharing pictures and information, and chatting. Boyd describes Facebook as a "peer-based social outlet." Her study of "American teens' engagement with social networking sites and the ways in which their participation supported and complicated three practices--self-presentation, peer sociality, and negotiating adult society." According to Fodeman and Monroe (2009)"about 60 - 70% of 7th graders have accounts and the number is higher for 8th graders. “These children are too young to be using Facebook or other adult social networks." While teenagers primarily use social network sites to engage in common social practices, they reworked the technology for their purposes. Using Facebook takes a lot of time away from educational learning and gives the students a false sense of privacy. There are new forms of social media that are incorporated into everyday life, complicating some practices and reinforcing others for teens. Boyd states, "New technologies reshape public life, but teens' engagement also reconfigures the technology itself." There are also thousands of scams and teens are being targeted through Facebook. The students minds are being manipulated by advertisers, attitudes are being manipulated and personal information is being used. The word “friend” has changed and having relationships online is growing more and more popular among teens. Teens are trying to avoid engaging in face-to-face conversations and prefer to online socialize online, which will negatively affect them later in life (Fodeman and Monroe, 2009). 


Why Facebook?:


So what is it about Facebook that is so appealing to teens and young adults? According to Julia Ransohoff, from the Palo Alto Medical FoundationFacebook calls itself, "A social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study, and live around them." With Facebook being the sixth most popular Web site in the United States, it is no wonder that teens are creating profiles to communicate with others, some all over the world. As of summer 2007, there were over thirty million users, with 150,000 signing up daily. In terms of privacy, users are able to change their profile settings so that people who the user accepts as a friend can view and contact them. There is also the option for users to make their profiles viewable to specific people which is known as a "limited profile." The article concludes be saying that Facebook is not a bad thing. It allows teens to communicate with friends, share photos, share multimedia, and connect with their community. Having good judgement and being cautious is key to staying safe on Facebook. 


Pew Internet Reference: 


Purchell Ph.D., K., & Salmond, K. (2011,February 9 ). Trends in teen communication and social media use: What’s really going on here? Retrieved from  



This Pew study shows the breakdown of teens that use social networking sites, such as Facebook, and how negative online behavior takes place. The study found that 73% of social network users are teens between the ages of 12-17 and slide 8 talks about how new advances in high Internet speed, has caused greater engagement in online activities such as sing Facebook. The Girl Scout Research institute surveyed a group of girls nationwide, which included 1,026 girls ages 14-17 years old. They found that while most girls use social networking cites to communicate with their friends, most still prefer face-to-face conversation (Slide 12-14). Sadly, "74% of girls agree that “most girls my age use social networking sites to make themselves look cooler than they are and girls tend to downplay several positive characteristics of themselves online, like their intelligence and efforts to be a good influence" (Slide 14). Teens are influences highly by their peers even though they may have good intentions do be safe and do what's right. 






                                            Mother monitors her son while on Facebook

                                                    Two young girls logging on to Facebook



*Boyd, D. (2009). Taken out of context: American teen sociality in networked publics. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences,70(4-A), 1073-10A).


Cruz, G. (2009, January 15). The internet: Safe for kids? Time Magazine, Retrieved from 



Facebook (2011). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook#Social_impact


Fodeman, D. and Monroe, M. (2009). The impact of Facebook on our students. National Association of Independent Schools, Retrieved from http://www.nais.org/resources/article.cfm?ItemNumber=151505


Handley, M. (2010, April 14). Should Facebook have a ‘panic button’? Time Magazine, Retrieved from



*King, T. (2009). Teens' use of online social networking. .Journal of New Communications Research, 4(2), 36-41. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.


*Kirschner, P. A., & Karpinski, A. C. (2010). Facebook and academic performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 26(6), 1237-1245. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.03.024


Myers, J. (2011April 24). What is Facebook? wiseGEEK, Retrieved from http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-facebook.htm


Puzzanghera, J. (2011, March 1). Facebook reconsiders allowing third-party applications to ask minors for private information, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-facebook-minors-20110301,0,4317348.story?track=rss


Ransohoff, J. (2011). Facebook online website. Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Retrieved from http://www.pamf.org/teen/parents/emotions/facebook.html


Schlesinger, R. (2009, April 6). Young people looking for jobs should remember Facebook, Myspace have no privacy. U.S. News, Retrieved from 



*Taraszow, T., Aristodemou, E., Shitta, G., Laouris, Y., & Arsoy, A. (2010). Disclosure of personal and contact information by young people in social networking sites: An analysis using Facebook profiles as an example. International Journal of Media & Cultural Politics, 6(1), 81-101. doi:10.1386/macp.6.1.81/1


Tedeschi, B. (2009). Internet safety for kids. WebMD Health and Parenting. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/internet-safety-for-kids


Unknown Author. (2008, July 3). 'Mental risk' of Facebook teens. BBC News, Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7487723.stm


Pew Internet Reference:


Purchell Ph.D., K., & Salmond, K. (2011,February 9 ). Trends in teen communication and social media use: What’s really going on here? Retrieved from  



Comments (18)

jt_thizzle@... said

at 9:12 am on Apr 21, 2011

Damn Minors. Good job erica, I very excited to see what your research comes back with in the final.

uismiguel@... said

at 2:49 pm on Apr 21, 2011

I can see that this is very interesting topic to talk about, and right now, guess what, i am navigating in the portal of facebook. I think you have a lot to say about this portal, and i am looking forward to seeing your job..

Jenna Saenz said

at 5:42 pm on Apr 26, 2011

I love this topic! I think this is extremely relevant in todays society. Can't wait to hear the final!

Jay Barton said

at 11:24 am on Apr 27, 2011

I really like your angle on Facebook. I am doing privacy issues online and Fb is obviously a big part of my page too. Your sources look great. I checked through your annotations diligently as to see if your research could be of any help to me ;-) and see that we're using the same Pew study. My you and Jessica are all using it so Dr. Coopman will get very familiar with it. Great minds I guess. Well done so far and I can't wait to see the finished page. Good luck with the on-rushing deadline, I'm sure we'll all be fine.

uismiguel@... said

at 11:35 am on Apr 28, 2011

Once i again, this topic is great, and i know you will find great things to talk about it..

victorngo85@... said

at 2:09 pm on Apr 28, 2011

I think there should be age limit for facebook. what do you guys think?

Justine Cranford said

at 10:49 pm on Apr 28, 2011

Super interesting I look forward to your presentation and hearing about your findings. Very good job. :)

Adrian Aujero said

at 10:52 pm on Apr 28, 2011

I use Facebook all the time and i never realized the harms it can have, especially for minors.

jt_thizzle@... said

at 10:59 pm on Apr 28, 2011

Touchy subject. Minors seem to rule out what their parents want! I cant wait too see your wiki final

Bobby Menbari said

at 11:09 pm on Apr 28, 2011

Great topic...privacy is definitely an important issue, especially when dealing with little ones.

dbooth said

at 12:20 am on Apr 29, 2011

I remember when I first saw my little cousin on Facebook/Myspace and wanted to smack her thinking about all the creeps who could be stalking her. Creative topic, and nice page.

Aubrey Lee said

at 1:34 am on Apr 29, 2011

Awesome topic! Your page looks good. Its nice to get this perspective on Facebook. Crazy that minors are social networking... They are going to have an extremely large digital footprint starting at that young of an age.

reilingss2b7@... said

at 6:53 pm on May 2, 2011

this maybe a little old but when myspace was crackin when it first came out, i was too young for it so i changed my age around a little bit until i became 16. i regret doing it a 100 percent because im still hooked on social networking

dbooth said

at 12:09 pm on May 3, 2011

I am very glad someone did this aspect of social networking, so kudos for a unique topic. Increasingly the media has become over-sexualized, and as a result of this exposure the younger generations are also becoming a bit too sexed. I remember when I first saw my little cousin on Facebook/Myspace and I wanted to smack her thinking about all the creeps who could be stalking her. Then I saw a friend of her's profile and she was putting her phone number up for all to see. That relates to Jay's topic of privacy, but it is still really bad to think of these young girls doing this potentially dangerous stuff. Creative topic, and nice page.

Lena Zubaid said

at 8:31 pm on May 4, 2011

Nicole, I am so surprised and mostly annoyed actually about how young kids have Facebook pages. Also, what I have been noticing is that when people have kids they start making Facebook pages for them, it is kind of weird because what if that baby does not want a Facebook; now they are forced to have one. I totally agree with your whole topic, I hate how kids are chatting with other people online. The Internet is definitely getting more dangerous and has many dangerous people on it, I would not trust any stranger I meet online but I feel like young teens would be gullible to anything they hear. It is funny how people who basically live on Facebook wonder why people know so much about them. I like your last picture; I think that parents should really start monitoring their children when they are on Facebook. Other than all this, great topic and great source of information.

ericadeguzman@yahoo.com said

at 11:02 pm on May 8, 2011

Nicole, you provided us with such an abundance of credible resources! And I like how smoothly your citing ran throughout your wiki. I agree that 12 years old girls and boys do not need a facebook that young. I mean all for social networking, but I really do think sites like facebook and myspace need an age limit. I think it’s especially necessary to have an age limit because kids that young do not know the in’s and out’s of the internet just yet. They don’t know who to they can trust or not trust or what content is appropriate to put online.. I mean a lot of this stuff I just learned about through this class and the other comm. Classes I took this semester.. so how can we expect 12 years old to know, right?

Serena Sharma said

at 5:46 pm on May 12, 2011

I like that you chose this topic to bring to people’s attention. It is one of my pet peeves to see younger kids like of the ages of 10 or younger with a facebook. I have younger cousins that add me and I just skim their pages from time to time just to see what they have been up too and who they are adding. I think that there is no way that facebook can really regulate this problem other than their parents stepping in to keep a close watch on their kids and see what their really doing on there. I think you provided really great info, good job!

Juleane said

at 10:33 pm on May 12, 2011

This topic is really and truly relevant and should be in the forefront of many peoples' minds. One of my friends from high school her little sister who can't be more than 12 has a facebook and that bothers me. It may be because that makes me feel old on top of the fact that I know she isn't 13 and I don't know why parents with children below the age of 14 would allow their child or children to be on a site like facebook that is in constant battles over security and privacy. I have an 11-year old cousin and he'll be 12 in july, he wants a cell phone I haven't heard him asking about using facebook, but when he does I am going to be ALL OVER IT. I wonder if facebook would install parental controls like those used on the television?

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