LinkedIn Lowers Age to 13: Is This Making Children Grow Up Too Fast?

Lauren Riley
Lauren Riley Social Media Marketing Manager, Bubble Jobs

Posted on August 27th 2013

LinkedIn Lowers Age to 13: Is This Making Children Grow Up Too Fast?

What were you doing in your spare time when you were 13? Practicing dance moves for when you would be the next pop sensation? Playing out in the street with your friends? At a summer camp?

Well, according to LinkedIn, you were doing childhood all wrong!

The world’s largest “professional” network will lower its minimum age requirement to 13 in most countries on 12th September, in a bid to encourage young people to plan out their career paths by comparing themselves to others on the site.

The announcement coincides with the launch of University Pages, where potential students can learn about universities worldwide and connect with students or alumni to hear about their experiences and future career paths.

In a blog post, the network said: “With our launch today of University Pages on LinkedIn, we are providing a new way for schools, students, and alumni to connect, communicate, and explore unique insights about the full range of career possibilities – wherever your educational starting point may be.”

They also insisted that security settings will be different for those users under 18, with their year of birth, surname and specific location hidden and profile picture only visible to their connections. They also won’t appear in search engine results pages.

linkedin for kids

But is this all putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on young people who are made to feel self-conscious enough as it is as part of an image-centric online generation without worrying about what university admission officers and recruiters think of their summer job?

Children as young as 13 shouldn’t have to be concerned with linking up with recruiters and company executives or planning out their route from school to college to university to job to career. If I did that when I was 13 it would look something like this: finish school, get signed by Universal, sell millions of records and be bigger than Britney.

This change in LinkedIn’s age requirements also leaves these children open to people looking to recruit them to ill-paid, dodgy positions while taking advantage of young people who have felt pressured to plan their lives at what is a very vulnerable and naïve age.

Shouldn’t children be allowed to be children? This pressure to compare themselves to alumni of their dream universities can derail their true passions to take on something more “practical”, and the future geniuses of the world could be lost to a stuffy office.

I can see the potential for users aged 16 and over to start scoping out universities and gain inspiration for their own career paths, but is a 13-year-old age limit really necessary? I don’t think so!

What’s more, there’s the risk that LinkedIn might push away their existing professional community and advertisers, as the network had a very strong identity in the past as a professional network. With these latest changes, it is losing its uniqueness and idea of their demographic.

Not to mention the dreaded endorsements. Seeing as they’re about as useful as a chocolate teapot to adults, won’t children just see it as a bit of fun and before you know it people are being endorsed for pouting and twerking?! The likes of Twitter and Facebook already have a very strong young user database, but LinkedIn has always been a sanctuary for professional people away from the Beliebers and Directioners of the world posting their posy pictures and “I LOVE HARRY STYLES!!!111!”!212″ statuses.

A vibe underlying all of this seems to be a greediness from LinkedIn. A desire to boost their membership numbers and offer a larger audience to potential advertisers at a massively inflated price.

But will it have the desired effect, or will it drive the network’s loyal users far, far away?

I’d love to hear what you think on this one. Let me know in the comments below.

Lauren Riley

Lauren Riley

Social Media Marketing Manager, Bubble Jobs

I look after all things social for niche digital jobs board Bubble Jobs and contribute to the Bubble Jobs Blog!

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Comments

I have to strongly disagree with you here for several reasons.

First of all, when I was 13, I was running two businesses--one doing landscaping and garden planning work for neighbors, and one tutoring other students at my middle school. Like me, some kids work independently or with/for family at that age. However, I acknowledge that my experience may have been atypical. Most kids probably don't have a "serious" job at that age.
Second, however, is the opportunity for kids to connect through social media with informational resources and mentors. You intimated that your goal at that age was to be a professional singer/musician. What if you'd had an opportunity to connect with others in the performing arts to "see how it's done?" Would that have been a positive impact on your life?

The key here, I think, is parental involvement. Parents should be letting their kids explore the opportunities open to them, but making them understand that at age 13 they shouldn't be locked into something. At that age, many kids know what they want to do (I'm now an educator, because my tutoring business as a kid taught me that what I most wanted was to help people learn) but most don't. As long as parents are there to guide kids and show them how to utilize resources, what's wrong with playing in the social media sandbox and learning how to produce and present a good business image?

Hi Jessica,

Thanks for your comment. It sounds like you were a very mature and business-focused teenager! :)

While it is really impressive that you had two businesses at age 13, most children were probably not as business-savvy and driven as you at that age.

I don't think connecting with those already in the industries I wanted to be a part of aged 13 would have had a positive aspect on my life, as I changed my mind constantly throughout my teenage years, much like lots of other people.

The worry I have with LinkedIn is the pressure on children to make a decision way too early about their future career. Plus, LinkedIn is for networking with fellow professionals and has always had a clear idea of its identity.

Don't get me wrong, I think resources should be available to all children about potential careers or education paths, but in my opinion LinkedIn is definitely not the right platform for that sort of campaign.

I think that part of makes LinkedIn unique & authentic is its more buttoned up atmosphere as compared to non professional social networks. Lowering the minimum age has the potential to take away from this. Staying aligned with your unique brand feel is always a good idea.


Sure, there are exceptions to the rule like the above commenter, but I think either 16 or 18 and up is a better idea than 13 and up. I'd lean more towards the current 18. I remember in my freshman year of college, I was already getting fed messages about the importance of networking to secure employment upon graduation.

 

Thanks for your comment David.

I agree with your point that by lowering the age restriction, LinkedIn risks losing its uniqueness and brand feel.

Again, I would concede that perhaps 16 would have been more reasonable given the launch of University Pages, but, in my opinion, 13 is way too young.