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Facebook Adds Panic Button for Kids

We’re all aware of the dangers that lurk online for teens, but British mums and dads can rest a bit easier knowing that Facebook has installed a “panic button” for users ages 13-18 to report inappropriate or suspicious conduct by other users on the site.

According to The Daily Mail, children can “access an advice centre from their home page where they will be able to report suspected grooming or inappropriate (adult) behaviour. It is the result of Facebook and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre joining forces.”

This protective measure was added for UK users after a 17-year-old girl was murdered by a 33-year-old man posing as a teenage boy.  For now, a similar panic button will not appear on the US homepage of young Facebook users, unless they add it.  While the application is targeted at British teens, the Associated Press notes that “harassment reported by teenagers in other countries would be passed on to law enforcement in those places.”

With all of the pitfalls young teens face online, do you think it’s appropriate for middle-school aged children to have Facebook profiles?  Two 12-year-olds in my life are active users of the site, and one recently posted a status update that read, “OMG plz stop hacking into my account I am getting in so much trouble.”  If kids don’t even know not to share their passwords with their friends, how are they to decipher when that cute, 17-year-old who lives one town over is actually a predator?  Should we keep our kids off Facebook, or try to help them navigate the shark-filled waters of the Internet?

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