Tuesday, August 20, 2013

LinkedIn switches focus to kids

LinkedIn have announced that they are reducing the age limit for membership from 18 to 13. I have to say that disturbed would be an underestimation of my reaction.

Firstly, it seems rather absurd, especially at a time when the safety of young people online is at the centre of public debate. Personally, I find it weird that LinkedIn finds it acceptable to allow teenagers or screenagers (if you want to be hip) to connect and network with adults they don’t know. I see bad times ahead!

LinkedIn’s argument for offering the service feels wishy-washy. It will help young people to research their career options and job prospects. Really? What self-respecting 13 year old is on the hunt for work? At that age, I was still sharing Pogs in the playground or at the roller disco. Ah, to be young again. Seriously though, the future hadn’t even entered my mind.

While the concerns might be about what smartphone is fashionable, I would say that the same applies to young people today.

It’s also said that young people will be able to create an online persona that looks towards higher education and work rather than the standard social networks, but will this be any different from the idealised CVs employers see from school leavers?

Even with the planned changes LinkedIn says they’ll stay true to their professional networking roots. I can’t see how though. Will there be a LinkedIn boycott by business people who use it for the purpose for which it was made? They will surely find the under 18s brigade a nuisance rather than an asset. Also, who is going to be comfortable with connecting with an under 18 for fear of being branded a predator?

Is this really about opportunities for kids or is LinkedIn after a slice of online advertising spend? Last year Facebook’s ad revenue reached $5 billion.

Anyway rant over. Don’t look me up on LinkedIn chances are you won’t find me.

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