In a blog post published Monday, LinkedIn announced that it will be opening its virtual doors and rolling out the red carpet for high school students as young as 13 beginning September 12th. The site, sometimes referred to as “Facebook for professionals,” is ushering young people in with a new feature called University Pages, which is designed to help aspiring college students decide which college to attend and what major to pursue. The company’s announcement has garnered mixed reactions around the Web, with supporters singing its praises and critics calling it the end of childhood as we know it. Of course, as is often the case, the truth about the matter likely lies somewhere between these two extremes.
### Advantages for Teens
Choosing a college or university is arguably one of the first major life decisions a young person is faced with, and the decision-making process can be grueling. Not only is there the significant pressure to make the “right” choice, but sometimes, students feel as if they simply don’t have enough information to make a truly informed decision. Visiting every college they are considering can be a financial strain and a logistical nightmare, and while teens can go to the university’s website for information, it can still be difficult to get a clear picture of what the school experience will actually be like. There’s a host of problems students face when selecting a university from which to launch their careers, and the people at LinkedIn think they have the answers. Here are just a few of the advantages that University Pages offers young users:
Students can post questions about the school on University Pages and have those questions answered immediately by admissions counselors, professors, and alumni.
Teens with a LinkedIn account can examine the profiles of the school’s alumni to find out what they’ve accomplished since graduation.
Students can begin networking with professionals in their prospective fields before they even begin college.
### Concern for Teens
Much of the concern about LinkedIn for teens is the potential for it to put too much pressure on them at an early age. Some speculators say that kids may be influenced to make the wrong career decisions in an effort to find the most prestigious or lucrative job. Although these concerns may be somewhat warranted, they’re certainly not new. Parents and guidance counselors have been attempting to influence college and career choices for decades upon decades, in some cases as early as elementary school. The question we should be asking is the same we ask for all social media networks—that is, whether or not teens will be safe on the site. While that’s yet to be seen, LinkedIn has taken some precautionary measures to protect teens from any potential danger. For instance, the site will automatically limit the amount of information that’s visible on a teen’s Linked profile and plans to prioritize any Customer Support inquiries coming from users under the age of 18. Does that mean teens won’t find a way to run into trouble on the site? Not necessarily, though the risks of being active on LinkedIn will likely pale in comparison to those associated with dangerous messaging apps like Snapchat, Kik, and Ask.fm, for instance.
Of course, the best way to know what your teen is doing online is to monitor their activity. While some websites and apps may be safer than others, adolescents can encounter danger anywhere on the Web.
What do you think about LinkedIn for teens? Is it a good idea or too much too soon?