20 August 2013
LinkedIn targets students reducing membership age down to 13
- T&Cs and user agreement updates coincides with University Pages launch
- LinkedIn to be made available to pre-university members
- Different default settings to limit publicly available information
- Social media analysts debate whether 13 is too young for the social network
Social network LinkedIn that focuses upon the business and career aspects of personal profiles is to lower its membership age from 18 down to 13-years old next month.
LinkedIn’s terms and conditions change as it tries to reach younger students, in addition to introducing its new functionality for graduates and undergraduates called University Pages. “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”, explained LinkedIn’s Eric Heath. Christina Allen from LinkedIn explains the background the new University Pages feature, how it came to be, including how they are beneficial to members and the network at length in her blog post.
Heath shares how the social network has updated its terms and conditions to cater for the change with its membership. In accepting pre-university members LinkedIn has enabled default profile settings that strives to limit publicly viewable profile information and will create tickets that will be managed by customer support for members under 18-years old. Links have been added to its Safety Center and Family Center to cater for any enquiries on how to use the social network from parents, guardian and members.
Heath explains the reason behind the changes, “We are updating our User Agreement to make LinkedIn available to students 13 years and older, depending on country. Smart, ambitious students are already thinking about their futures when they step foot into high school – where they want to go to college, what they want to study, where they want to live and work. We want to encourage these students to leverage the insights and connections of the millions of successful professionals on LinkedIn, so they can make the most informed decisions and start their careers off right.”
As Heath mentions, the minimum age for LinkedIn members will vary by country and will have the following breakdown:
- 14 years old: United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia and South Korea
- 16 years old: Netherlands
- 18 years old: China
- 13 years old: All other countries
It’s often thought that LinkedIn is the business and career led social network whilst Facebook focuses upon personal interactions a view echoed by many – rightly or wrongly. With the recent changes LinkedIn very well may steal eyeball time from its competitors as it enters new territory with its recent direction. However, its new direction has drawn criticism and further debate that the lower age membership is too young and may bring more challenges to a space that is riddled with an array of bullying, privacy and grooming issues.
The move by LinkedIn opens up many opportunities in a fiercely competitive sector including advertising, content partnerships and commercial relationships to an audience that it hasn’t had access to previously – albeit with privacy challenges that all social networks face. The mobile-ready social network has a dedicated app across operating systems which making it a potential popular platform for youngsters that it could build long relationships with from school years and throughout their careers. If LinkedIn can create a useful service akin with its older membership, it very well may become another attractive proposition for brands that would want to reach younger digitally savvy target audience.
The changes are set to be made by 12 September 2013.
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