Currently, Facebook bans anyone under the age of 13 from joining the social network. However, it is estimated that nearly 7.5 million preteens have circumvented this rule—even with their parents’ approval.
This week it was leaked that Facebook is considering allowing kids younger than 13 to use the service with parental supervision.
Among the options would be to connect kids’ accounts to their parents’ accounts and giving mom and dad control over what their children can do on the site, such as who they can “friend” and what apps they can use.
Of course, the benefits of “Under 13” users are not lost on anyone, including Facebook executives. Lowering the age limit would help the social networking giant tap younger users, who advertisers are eager to reach.
Kids are also avid gamers—a huge moneymaker for Facebook. About 12% of Facebook’s $3.7 billion in 2011 revenue came from games such as Zynga’s FarmVille or Tetris Battle.
Although lowering the age limit is not official, Facebook is drawing ire from parents and Internet regulators alike.
Many are worried that kids under 13 are not ready for the grown-up world of social networking, where older children have already fallen prey to online predators, bullies, or exposed to inappropriate content and online ads.