Friday, September 25, 2009

Facebook For My Kids?

My kids are pressuring me to let them open a Facebook account. Most of this is from my twelve year old. He has found out that most of the Boy Scouts in his Troop are on Facebook. These kids are mostly from public school and then two parochial private schools in the area (so this is not just a public school kid trend).

I've been on Facebook for a couple of months. I know I'm late to the game. But I feel like I reveal so much here on my blog to strangers plus I have friends and some family who read my blog. How much more do I need to share and do for my online time?

In the past I have shared negative views of Facebook for kids and tweens and teens and instead thought face to face socialization was better, or talking on the phone as second best. I still believe that. I see though that sometimes kids are in the house or it is late at night and they are just choosing to use social networking sites to communicate instead of the phone or face to face (which parents would object to both, late phone calls and staying out late at night). Other times the kids are just home with the parents (like around dinnertime) and this new technology is easy to log on and chat a bit before dinner is served. This is just a new thing that kids are doing that people in my generation didn't have the option to participate in.

Now that I'm on Facebook I can see the way it is secure and would feel safe having my kids on there (safe from predators).

And because my nine year old thinks he is older and is one of the type of people who live seeking fairness and equality, if I let my twelve year old on Facebook I will have pressure to let my younger son on it too.

My one reservation is the issue of the kids not understanding the ramifications of their actions. I worry about impulsive posts and not understanding the weight of what gets posted. I don't worry so much about cyber bullying as we could limit who our kids associate with. I worry about inappropriate things said from the other kids, even nice Boy Scouts. I also worry about the risk of future employers and colleges finding the old Facebook posts.

The Boy Scouts tell me they like to use the chat feature on Facebook. They live chat for hours and hours, some until three in the morning. They say their parents have no clue and think they are asleep and that the computer (in their bedrooms) is already shut down for the night, but they are wrong!

For now I'm holding off but it may not be for long. We'll have to see...


Stephanie said...

My eleven year old really wants on too. He read somewhere that you are supposed to be 13 (I think) to open a FB account. Since then he has been content to wait. I'm fine with that! :)

SAHMinIL said...

You can install littleye on your computer. It can monitor, block, certain sites. You can have each person have their own login so your older one can be on facebook, but your younger ones would be blocked from facebook. The other thing littleye does is it keeps a history for you of everything your child has done and for how long. It also gives you the ability to restrict computer access. So your son can't get on at 11:00pm and talk to 3:00am because his internet time for those hours could be blocked by you.

I know you want them to have their "freedom" but I still believe that we need to careful and not just assume they are "safe". Nor should they be on without parental knowledge or late at night. That could lead them into going places (other sites) that are not approved by the parent.

christinemm said...

Thanks for the reminder on the age rules. I hadn't looked at the rules yet.

Some kids we know have been on FB since age 9. Hmmm.

Love 2B Homeschoolers said...

My 12yo is on FB, but my 9yo is not. My 9yo just wants to play the games, so I let him use my account for that. So far he's been OK with it. My 12yo though, likes the social aspect.

I set up the privacy for him, and turned off instant messaging because there is no way for me to track that. He seems happy to take what I'll let him have. So far he has been great in willing to accept the limits I put on him when it comes to his safety on the computer, since he really does seem to appreciate that that's why I'm so careful.

The only thing I really have issues with is friends of friends. He knows mostly good kids and I am reasonably sure he is protected on his own wall, but when he looks at friends' walls there are lots of not-so-good kids posting stuff there I'd rather he not see.

I monitor him pretty closely. I also set up a Google Alert of his real name so I'm informed of any of his "private" information becoming public. So far his name has been safe, but finding me has become a lot easier since I've started using FB.

familyfun said...

Great topic for parents. I just posted a clip of it on my blog at