What started as a Harvard security breach has now become the most popular international social network. Approximately 40% of the U.S. population has a Facebook account, compared to 90% of undergraduate students. As the number of Facebook users will soon reach 600 million, the number of anti-Facebook advocates seems to be growing as well. Facebook’s privacy policy restricts users under the age of 13, but social mediais this age even appropriate for posting personal information to the world?

Although her daughters, Sasha, 9, and Malia, 12, are not yet allowed to use Facebook, Michelle Obama believes that they are not missing out. President Obama also addressed high school students in Virginia about the dangers of social networking, telling them that they should be careful about posting things now that will be pulled up later in life.

Sure enough, more and more employers and college recruiters are checking Facebook as part of the application process. This social media information gives them a fuller picture of their applicants while perusing their public, personal, and private lives. Any stark discrepancy between public and profile appearance could cause reason for recruiters to second guess their options.

So are anti-Facebookites missing out? Interestingly, 50% of Facebook users in the United States are ages 18-34. This seems to be the prime age group for sharing photos, uploading status updates, or even planning social events and get-togethers. However, this is also the prime age group for job hunters and higher education applicants.

Where is the balance—is Michelle Obama right? Are social media sites unnecessary? When is the right age to start using Facebook, if at all?

Jamie Bates