IT Employment

Is LinkedIn turning kid-friendly?

On September 12th, a change in the terms of service at LinkedIn will take effect, allowing users as young as 13 to join the website. Will this be the poison pill that relegates LinkedIn to the failed social networking ranks of MySpace and Xanga?
On September 12th, a change in the terms of service at LinkedIn will take effect, allowing users as young as 13 to join the website. The rationale behind this change is the addition of “University Pages” on LinkedIn, a feature that purportedly allows students to search for a university that’s the right fit for them.

This new foray into teenage social networking is rather far away from the original purpose of LinkedIn. Will this scope-widening change be the poison pill that ultimately relegates LinkedIn to the failed social networking ranks of MySpace and Xanga?

First off, LinkedIn’s University Pages feature itself is somewhat lacking. With any rollout of a new service, it takes some time to add more users, but as it stands, the University Pages feature will launch with 200 participating institutions across the world. This is far from exhaustive; though it’s quite likely they’ll be able to lure the marketing departments of other institutions to join the initiative.

But LinkedIn is running into the chicken-and-egg problem: There’s no point for universities to extend their likely thin (or perhaps just thinning) public relations team to maintain a presence on a website that prospective students would not be using, and those searching wouldn’t bother to sign up to search for universities on a site that contains profiles for such a small percentage of institutions worldwide.

It would follow that their time would be better spent courting potential students on websites where they actually presently congregate—that is to say, Facebook. Accordingly, joining LinkedIn for the purpose of getting what is, in essence, regurgitated information one could otherwise easily find on Google is a poor use of time and a poor value proposition for the extra step.

The second major problem in this endeavor, as readers with children or nieces and nephews (or otherwise happen to have friended 13-year-olds on Facebook) would surmise, is that teenagers rarely display the level of professionalism you would hope to find on LinkedIn. Accordingly, this move would likely serve to disrupt the natural flow of what you would presume at least approaches intelligent discourse on LinkedIn.  

This isn’t to say that LinkedIn is some bastion of intelligence or civility, but to put it bluntly, discussion of less-than-professional activities (e.g., blunts, and the smoking of them, among others) would likely result.  

A substantial lowering of the level of professionalism in the LinkedIn community could send users away in droves, and this change could be the impetus behind such an exodus. The decline of MySpace can be attributed chiefly to an influx of adults on what had been essentially a party lacking adult supervision, and users tiring of aesthetically distressing custom themes found on profile pages. A sudden influx of teenagers on a website intended for career professionals would, it would follow, cause something of an upheaval on LinkedIn.

This isn’t the only change that could undermine the superiority that LinkedIn enjoys. The introduction of the “Endorsements” feature late last year is a somewhat hollow attempt at adding further value to the social network. Endorsements are circular, given between friends without any form of outside verification, and don’t require the endorser to be qualified in any way in the subject of the field in which they endorse someone else. Consequently, people are being endorsed for skills they may well not actually possess, and for skills that people only continue to begrudgingly practice at the expense of their own mental health.

Of minor importance, the new lower age limits worldwide are set at 13, except users for the United States, Canada, Australia, Spain, Germany, and South Korea, who must wait until age 14. Dutch users can register at age 16. Perhaps most out of luck in this change are Chinese children, by far the most likely in this group to have already started a career, and therefore properly merit a LinkedIn account, as they must continue to wait until age 18.

What are your opinions of this change by LinkedIn to lower the age limit of registration to age 13? Share them with us in the comments section below.



About

James Sanders is a Java programmer specializing in software as a service and thin client design, and virtualizing legacy programs for modern hardware. James is currently a student at Wichita State University in Kansas.

30 comments
williama.willis
williama.willis

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williama.willis
williama.willis

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bmeyer66
bmeyer66

I will just add this change to the list of reasons I do not belong to LinkedIn.

My not being on it confused the college career services people when I went in as I was a non-traditional student. They expected that as such I would already have a profile on LinkedIn.

There are a few issues that I have yet to resolve with my needs and the whole social media and its conflicts with federal laws in certain cases. Especially the medical field.

RMSx32767
RMSx32767

In the vast collection of stupid ideas this is one of the most stupid.
LI should simply create a new site, or subdomain, called LIJR. When the child becomes an adult the existing profile can be moved to the adult side.

eaglewolf
eaglewolf

Just went to log into LinkedIn and saw the advert for:

"Save time by using your Facebook account to sign up for LinkedIn.

Sign up with Facebook *""

So given Facebooks 'issues' with privacy and data mining, how secure are we now going to be on LI?  What from LI will be freely distributed on FB?  

Ties into lowering the age ..

DAS01
DAS01

What is the current minimum?  It seems if the idea is for universities to promote to kids, then 16 would make more sense.

Still, I don't think I like it much.  Xing will benefit.

While I am at it, I agree with the critics of the new endorsement system.  Completely meaningless.  I have been endorsed for 'skills' (or industry knowledge I don't have) - I do not accept those.

eaglewolf
eaglewolf

If universities want to promote to kids, then using a site that is for people who already, for the most part, *have* their degree and are in their chosen profession doesn't make sense.   LinkedIn has, until recently, been a professional networking site ... NOT a social one.  But unfortunately it's been drifting in that direction.

Sorry .. kids are great and many value education, but LinkedIn is not the place for them.  And with the limited participation by colleges and universities, what LinkedIn proposes is highly questionable.  If this is only an attempt to pull revenue from Facebook, let them set up a separate site that dosn't include membership access to the main LI site.  Anybody can look.

Are we now to get the questionable endorsements from 13 yr olds?  How do you know that 7th grader from Green Valley Middle School really is who they say they are?  And the profile?  Experience:  Facebook, Twitter, X-box.  Favorite subject in school:  math.  Sports:  football.  Interests:  gaming, creating apps (small shred of hope there).

LinkedIn has gone *seriously* astray on this one.

charlievh
charlievh

If that goes through, I will email all connections that I will be shutting down my activities here. I will go back to reviewing activity on the Ladders.com....even as a pay-for site.

This maybe a business but NO business does a change like that to drop out of it's core business and lives

MAM@ONCFARI.COM
MAM@ONCFARI.COM

If they actually do this, some other enterprising individual or company will simply recreate LinkedIn and be immensely successful. Hmm...

MAM@ONCFARI.COM
MAM@ONCFARI.COM

This is a totally idiotic idea! What is LinkedIn thinking? They're going to take the best (and IMO, only) truly professional "social media" platform and turn it into Facebook? Whoever came up with this concept needs to be removed immediately. If this actually goes forward, I predict that they will find themselves trying to figure out how to undo it 6-12 months from now. I have a Pro account with over 1500 PROFESSIONAL connections, but if this happens, I'm outta there! Very disappointing...

PS Even if you refuse the connections, I can see everyone being inundated with 'validation' email messages like: "Does Todd know about Action Figures?" or "Does Sally know about Terking?" Yikes!!!!!

ggonzales
ggonzales

I don't think it'll be an issue.  We still have the option to not accept the connection.

jonrosen
jonrosen

Don't get me wrong, I realize there are teenage kids who work. I was one. I recall even having to get a 'work permit' from the local town hall because I was 11 or 12. But unless you're a true workaholic genius at that age, you don't belong on here. And if you are, you likely don't even need LinkedIn.

Lowering the age limit like this is an idiotic move, and as others have said, if this simply becomes facebook, I will empty and delete my account. As I've done on facebook years ago. LinkedIn has been an occasionally useful tool (and even occasionally is likely overstating the use I've had outside of some interesting new blurbs), but this tool will lose its effectiveness even that far if this upcoming idiocy is moved forward upon


Twilight23
Twilight23

Like many others, I fail to understand what LInkedIn thinks they will gain.  Kids (and universities) will mostly stay on Facebook while some professionals will leave LinkedIn if the professional uses of the site get buried in social garbage (I would).

kroels
kroels

LinkedIn was already heading into dangerous waters as of late, with things such as the easy "recommendations" flying around and other such social-media oriented tagging. I had people I've never worked with in any capacity recommend skills for me in the hopes I would reciprocate and essentially "inflate" their resume.   In my mind this rendered recommendations useless.

I really think a sister site would be more appropriate than adding people this young to LinkedIn proper.  My expectations of LinkedIn are professional orientation and mature commentary, something that I think would not last long if they choose to dilute both their offering and their user base.

guy
guy

I tried to explain Linkin to a colleague recently and he made the comment "so it's Facebook for adults".  I guess if kids are let in it will become "Facebook..." period.   

I see no advantage to lowering the age limit and they will probably lose me if they do so.

mattohare
mattohare

This does allow for young professionals. It also allows for the younger to learn what it is to interact in a professional world. Much of this article seems to go with an apparent assumption that people are irresponsible children until they're eighteen, and then suddenly become professional adults. I see far to many on Linked in, participating on the message board threads, that never seemed to mature at all. They'll troll and throw flame wars. I know several, personally, that were already producing software or calculating good investment strategies well before the age of 16.

If people under eighteen are already contributing to the marketplace, then they should be here. Instead of limiting the marketplace, we should be expanding it.

BobaFettismyuncle
BobaFettismyuncle

LinkedIn is looking for new ways to drive revenue, rather than looking at ways to simply improve what it already does.  Ironic how Facebook was started a s a college social site and now LinkedIn is trying to capitalize on that.  Wouldn't it work better if LinkedIn had a "sister site" that catered to this crowd, separating those of us that use LI for advancing our careers but allowing us (if we choose) to join the "UniversitedIn" network if we choose, rather than lumping everyone else in the same bucket. 

I'm all for expanding and trying new things, but the LinkedIn endorsements are hokey and now this just seems plain dumb.  How did this idea make it past the conference room??


don.chambers
don.chambers

It sounds like the developers have lost their focus.We do not need or want another social media site whose whole purpose is entertainment. We do need a site for professionals to link to each others to find each other. And IMHO, using Linkedin to find a university is a stupid idea.

Maybe it is time to find an alternative to Linked in?

ppiercy
ppiercy

@don.chambers I agree a sister sight would be a viable alternative for all concerned.  I do not choose to be a member of a kids website. 

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