In the public preview of the upcoming Xbox Live update that features access to Twitter, Facebook, and Last.fm, users under the age of 18 aren't allowed to access the aforementioned social networks. Unfortunately for those users, that will still be the case when the software launches on all Xbox 360s later this year.
According to Microsoft spokesperson Major Nelson in a blog post, Microsoft made the decision to limit access to Twitter, Facebook, and Last.fm to those 18 and older because parents won't have the ability "to use Family Settings to customize which of these applications their children can access." Microsoft is also concerned with keeping the Xbox Live environment "age-appropriate."
Realizing it will be a hot-button issue for many Xbox Live users, Major Nelson was quick to point out that it wouldn't be a lasting solution. Microsoft, he said, is working on "an update that gives parents the choice of which social applications their children can access." According to Nelson, after the update is released, children between the ages of 13 and 17 will be able to access the social networks after obtaining parental approval.
So far, Microsoft has not said when the Xbox Live update will finally launch (Nelson said "soon"). The update that gives parents control over access to those social networks will be released "several weeks" after the launch of the Xbox Live update.
Let's hear from you. Do you think Microsoft should limit child access to social networks? Let us know in the comments below.