FILE -This Dec. 13, 2011 file photo, shows workers inside Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Facebook, the social network that changed "friend" from a noun to a verb, is expected to file as early as Wednesday to sell stock on the open market. Its debut is likely to be the most talked-about initial public offering since Google in 2004. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Facebook is exploring the idea of a service for pre-teens, accessible under parental control.

Facebook bans anyone under 13 from joining it. But with no set restrictions in place, children as young as 10 are using and chatting through Facebook. With fears that child predators use social networks to target children, Facebook has been under pressure to provide a safer cyber experience for minors.

Hence the idea of launching a “Facebook lite”.

“We have to do something super responsible. We can’t afford not to,” a Facebook official was quoted as saying in the Wall Street Journal.

The version looks at connecting children’s profiles to their parents’ accounts and giving parents control over who the child can “friend” and what applications they can use.

Some SA parents are in two minds about this version of Facebook and worry that children under 13 will be exposed to inappropriate material.

Cape Town mother Refiloe Mokoape said: “I can’t stop my son from using it, but I wouldn’t encourage it. I know it’s meant to be for children, but some dirty paedophile will turn that into his playground.”

Another one of her concerns is the potential of cyber bullying within the modified social network. “What if these pre-pubescent children start bullying one another?”

Sthe Ngidi, mother of toddler Sethabile, said she would let her daughter use the modified Facebook when she was a bit older.

Rachel Johansen, now 14, opened a Facebook account when she was 12. “My friend was moving far away and I wanted to keep in contact so I got Facebook,” she said, adding that a service aimed at children defeated the purpose of social networking.

Zinhle, 13, has been using Facebook for almost a year and conned her way past the age restriction.

“I said I was 16,” said the Grade 8 pupil, who doesn’t think that Facebook is a dangerous environment for minors. “I would never use a Facebook for kids. that’s so lame.” - Cape Argus