Photo: Courtesy of LinkedIn.
Back when Facebook was exclusively a network for users with college e-mail accounts, leaving MySpace felt like graduation. Finally, you had access to a social network specifically meant for college students. Then, it opened its doors to anyone with a school account, and now — all that's needed to join is any ol' e-mail address. The novelty of the exclusivity has long since faded, as everyone and their grandmother (literally!) started poking you. So, we shouldn't be surprised to learn that come September 12, LinkedIn will be following a similar path. The 18-or-older rule will be thrown to the digital wind, allowing users as young as 14 to join the career networking site.
Businesses have long been LinkedIn fans — employee scouts roam the site looking at resumes, endorsements, and essentially conducting pre-interview interviews with potential new hires even before meeting them. Colleges and universities are as much businesses as they are institutions, and having an Internet presence outside of College Board and The Princeton Review is becoming increasingly important. Forbes notes that LinkedIn has the ability to show prospective students where the majority of a college's alumni end up, citing that many NYU graduates go to Citicorp, and Carnegie Mellon grads to Google, for example.
Exposing teens to the academic side of college (as opposed to the Facebook side) could get them focusing on achieving honors, extracurriculars, and building a resume. It seems odd, but getting a head start on the professional network might be necessary in the Information Age. While there certainly won't be any Sarah's Lemonade Stand-like businesses or Neighborhood Babysitters groups popping up anytime soon, it's great to see a social network encouraging teens to consider their lives outside of their immediate future. How successful the widening gap will be is still up for debate, but don't be surprised if you find an invitation to connect from your teen dog walker this fall. (Forbes)