(CNN) – Should young children be able to use Facebook?
And if so, under what conditions?
Those are the questions bloggers and Twitter users are batting around the Internet on Monday following a news report saying Facebook is looking into ways it could let kids under the age of 13 use the site with parental consent.
Currently, Facebook bans children younger than 13.
Data from Microsoft Research and Consumer Reports, however, show that many kids use the site anyway, often with their parents’ knowledge. A 2011 Consumer Reports survey found 7.5 million people younger than 13 use the site; nearly a third of 11-year-olds and more than half of 12-year-olds use Facebook with their parents’ knowledge, according to a 1,007-person survey supported by Microsoft Research.
Proponents of lifting Facebook’s under-13 ban say letting young kids on Facebook with the help of adults would allow them to use the social network more safely.
“Whether we like it or not, millions of children are using Facebook, and since there doesn’t seem to be a universally effective way to get them off the service, the best and safest strategy would be to provide younger children with a safe, secure and private experience that allows them to interact with verified friends and family members without having to lie about their age,” Larry Magid writes at Forbes.com.
Magid says Facebook for kids should not have ads and there need to be “extra privacy protections” that would involve parents helping their kids to use the social network safely.
Others say Facebook is trying to profit from the under-13 crowd.
Common Sense Media, an advocacy group, compared Facebook to “Big Tobacco.”