The Latest Terrifying Teen Tech Trend: 14-Year-Olds on LinkedIn

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Aug. 20 2013 9:52 AM

The Latest Terrifying Teen Tech Trend: 14-Year-Olds on LinkedIn

linkedin_teens

Screenshot / LinkedIn

LinkedIn announced today that it is dropping its minimum age from 18 to 14 in the United States to allow teens to build their resumes and connect with colleges on the site. The social network is encouraging universities to build their own “University Pages” so that potential applicants can learn about their offerings. Michigan, Seton Hall, and NYU are among the 200 colleges that have already joined the site. The Wall Street Journal notes:

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

For LinkedIn, it’s less about trying to grab a group of savvy social-media kids allegedly growing bored with Facebook, and more about plying that old General Motors concept: Start out the customers young and stay with them through different stages of their lives. A college prospect with a LinkedIn account is likely to become a professional employee with a LinkedIn account a few years later. (Crossing fingers for a good economy.)
Advertisement

Access for teens will come with a host of restrictions intended to preserve their privacy. Nevertheless, a few bloggers have tried to make something exciting out of this news by implying that it will rob teens of their childhood. Here’s Jezebel’s Callie Beusman, in a post carrying the modest headline, “LinkedIn Lowers Age Limit to 13, Annihilates Childhood Forevermore:”

Nothing says "I've resigned myself to all the dreary bits of adulthood; never again will I gurgle with childish joy at some delightful sight in nature; there is no such thing as magic" quite as clearly as the decision to make oneself a LinkedIn.

TechCrunch’s Josh Constine, in an earnest post titled “Losing Our Childhood to LinkedIn,” yearns for the good old days, when kids could roam the Internet without fear of “college admissions officers lurking the web”:

LinkedIn Madness

Image via Amazon.com

What’s scarier than a 14-year-old girl choosing her sexiest Facebook profile pic? Maybe a 14-year-old girl inflating her résumé on her new LinkedIn profile. Childhood used to be a time of self-exploration, but the Internet is pushing kids to define themselves early and put that facade on display.

These writers seem to have in mind a sort of reverse Reefer Madness in which the lure of the demon drug LinkedIn leads kids away from lives of carefree hedonism in a self-destructive quest for future employability. But of course it isn’t LinkedIn or any other social network that’s pressuring kids to dabble in internships, student clubs, and the other pre-professional gateway drugs that Constine is so concerned about. It’s the college admissions process itself, which, if memory serves, already requires you to build a resumé.

In any case, the assumption that the nation’s ninth-graders are going to drop their Snapchats and Keeks and flock to LinkedIn to compare educational bona fides strikes me as possibly a slight misreading of the average ninth-grade psyche. More likely, 14-year-olds will find LinkedIn at least as boring as the rest of us already do.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

Scotland Is Inspiring Secessionists Across America

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 18 2014 10:42 AM Scalia’s Liberal Streak The conservative justice’s most brilliant—and surprisingly progressive—moments on the bench.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 11:25 AM Gays on TV: From National Freakout to Modern Family Fun
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 12:03 PM The NFL Opines on “the Role of the Female”
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 11:48 AM Watch the Hilarious First Sketch From Season 4 of Key & Peele
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 10:07 AM “The Day It All Ended” A short story from Hieroglyph, a new science fiction anthology.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.