LinkedIn: The social network for professionals wants to expand its service to high school students. Photo: Reuters
LinkedIn will soon open up its online professional networking service to high school students as part of an effort to help steer their university careers.
From September 12, the new minimum age to create a LinkedIn account will be 14 in Australia.
LinkedIn is lowering its age requirements so high school students can tap into a new feature, called University Pages, designed to help them learn more about universities around the world and connect undergraduates with alumni. About 200 universities have already set up pages on LinkedIn, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US and Oxford University in Britain. The company said thousands more universities will be given access to the new feature during the next few weeks.
By lowering its age requirements, LinkedIn will open up new growth opportunities that could help the company widen its usage and bring in more revenue. It doesn't cost money to set up a LinkedIn profile, but the company charges fees to gain additional access and insights into its membership. Linked also sells advertising space that becomes more valuable as its audience grows.
The minimum age to create an account will range from 13 years old to 16 years old in most countries where LinkedIn operates. The minimum membership age will be 14 in Australia, the US, Canada, Germany, South Korea and Spain. Students living in the Netherlands must be 16 years old to join LinkedIn. With the exception of China, where residents must be 18 or older to set up a profile, LinkedIn's minimum age will be 13 everywhere else.
Allowing younger people into LinkedIn's network also could expose the service to attempts to exploit and harass young people – a problem that has occasionally plagued Facebook, which requires kids to be at least 13 years old before they can set up a profile.
LinkedIn said it will limit what information can be seen on children's accounts and will set up a special customer support system to help members under 18.
LinkedIn ended June with 238 million members, more than double from when the company went public in May 2011. The robust growth has helped LinkedIn consistently deliver earnings that exceed analysts' projections, to the delight of investors.