Digital Revolution Concerns: Kids on Facebook

Raffi Cavoukian, author of "Lightweb Darkweb," shares some of his digital revolution concerns like kids on Facebook.

| October 2013

Many know him as Raffi—a renowned singer, author children’s champion, ecology advocate and entrepreneuer, recipient of three honorary degrees and the Order of Canada. For millions of fans, Raffi’s music was the soundtrack of their childhood. These “beluga grads” now share his songs with their own kids. Raffi has been described by the Washington Post and the Toronto Star as the most popular children’s entertainer in the western world, and Canada’s all time children’s champion. Raffi is a tech enthusiast, entrepreneur, and ecology advocate. He holds three honorary degrees, is the recipient of numerous awards, and is a Member of the Order of Canada and the Club of Budapest. Lightweb Darkweb: Three Reasons To Reform Social Media Be4 It Re-Forms Us (Homeland Press, 2013) argues that society can optimize the benefits of the Internet only by acting to reduce its shadow of social, ecological and health hazards. Raffi puts a large focus on children’s developmental needs as a main consideration in the digital revolution, emphasizing on the concept and effect of kids on Facebook. This excerpt is taken from Part 1: Safety.

Kids on Facebook: An Unintended Audience

In 2004, the online platform started by Mark Zuckerberg and friends became Facebook, now the social media choice of an estimated 1 billion users. The irony is that Facebook doesn’t put you face to face with anyone. It’s an online way to share your life with family and friends, your virtual “friends” community and/or the world. What has caught us off guard is the millions of young users of social media under the age of 17.

Increasingly, people are questioning whether the online obsession, from Internet browsing to constant texting, is good for kids. Social media is changing family life, youth peer relations and how people experience life. Yet we don’t know the impact of such a quick and dramatic change in social norms. We have no clear evidence that this is a good thing.

We do have evidence it’s a bad thing. In the wake of a public outcry over online bullying and many predator-driven teen suicides, we’re scrambling to safeguard kids’ time online. It should never have come to this.

Furthermore, in 2011, Mark Zuckerberg said that he wanted to allow kids on Facebook aged younger than 13, the company’s current requirement for minimum user age. Incredibly, he seems to equate this with promoting education, saying, “My philosophy is that for education you need to start at a really, really young age.”