LinkedIn dropped its minimum age for enrollment to 14 in the US. This change comes with their launch of their University pages, a new LinkedIn environment for higher education. While I initially saw this as a move to capture warm, unassuming young bodies (which it does), there may be some clear value to having high school students wading in the LinkedIn environment.
Teens should understand that a networked world exists beyond instagram pics. As teens morph into publicly responsible young adults they need to recognize that our networked environments exist for purposes beyond the selfie. Seeing how adults conduct themselves in the real world has value in the shaping of online identity.
Initiation of dialog surrounding digital footprint can’t start too early. As noted by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen in The New Digital Age, “the trail of information that will shape our online identities in the future begins well before any citizen has the judgment to understand it.” This is the first generation of humans to have an indelible record. LinkedIn’s new policy may create the opportunity for early dialog about digital presence.
Initially I thought that teens have no business on a platform about business. They should occupy their minds with less serious things. But a LinkedIn presence and age-appropriate goofing off are not mutually exclusive. Kids will be kids. LinkedIn’s age policy will never change that. And that’s probably a good thing.
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