Big changes are coming to LinkedIn when everyone returns to the office after Labor Day. Starting September 12, the social network will expand to allow members as young as 14 to join in the United States, and as young as 13 in some countries in Europe.
While some are balking at the change and cautioning that accounts on the business-oriented site will force youths to group up too young, the truth is that the network is merely reacting to an already established trend.
1 – Students and recent grads are LinkedIn’s fastest growing demographic. The number of college students and those who graduated from college less than three years ago grew by 37 percent in the last year, amounting to more than 30 million of LinkedIn’s 225 million total members.
2 – College prep is a billion dollar industry. As college admissions become more competitive, this is likely to continue to grow. With its university pages pulling real alumni data from profiles, LinkedIn will offer unique and valuable statistics to the conversation including graduate employment rates as well as what industries those graduates are employed in and at what companies.
3 – Teens are already joining anyway. Some of those teens are so ambitious they had no qualms about glossing over the technicality of LinkedIn’s existing 18-year-old age limit and already have profiles. As college admissions become more competitive, students are getting more aggressive about being the best candidates possible. These youths aren’t being pressured into joining in—they want to break into the professional world.
4 – They’re keeping it professional. LinkedIn’s age limit will now be the same as Facebook’s, but you don’t need to worry about cat memes showing up in your feed. The network is looking to attract the ambitious teen planning for his or her future—not the average teen.
LinkedIn isn’t ruining childhoods with unwanted pressure—it is opening doors to help eager youths plan successful futures. And this is only one of many ways LinkedIn has changed recently. Just lat week it announced a redesign that makes group pages easier to manage, and it started publishing original content earlier in the year. But in large part, LinkedIn continues to play to its unique strengths, rooted in professional world and built on traditional networking.