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Moms Talk: Facebook

Weigh in on this week's discussion on kids and Facebook usage.

Social networking has been around for years and has become increasingly popular over the last decade. There seems to be a site for everything -- from dating to academics -- where people can post information about themselves and share thoughts and ideas.

The one that has gained the most attention in the last few years is Facebook. Facebook is everywhere and is used by millions worldwide. Almost everywhere it seems that someone is posting a status update, uploading photos to their personal page, and browsing the profiles of people on their "friends" list. It has become more uncommon than common not to have a Facebook account.

The Facebook frenzy has lead to a heated parental debate over whether to allow children to use Facebook or other social networking sites.

One argument for allowing children to use Facebook is that social networking is harmless fun, and that it is OK for the kids to use it as long as parents monitor the online activity. This argument leans heavily on trust between parent and child.

The other, of course, encompasses the darker side of social media and accompanying problems. Parents don't really know with whom their children are communicating, and with real threats of pedophilia, or worse, reported daily. Therefore, the parents decide to go with a better-safe-than-sorry method and do not allow their children to have accounts on these types of sites.

So it's time to weigh in on this week's question:

Should children be allowed to use Facebook or other social networking sites, and if so, what age is appropriate? If your answer is no, then why not?

Lindsay F March 04, 2011 at 03:25 PM
I will not allow my child to have a Facebook account until she is at least 13 (the minimum age requirement per FB rules) and even then I will closely monitor my child's account, especially her friend list. I see benefits in FB like keeping in touch with family from long distances and staying in touch with friends I wouldn't otherwise socially interact on a regular basis. But I also see that too much computer time in general could keep my child from exploring other ways of entertaining herself. Technology in general has taken over our world and we can't ignore it, but I will certainly do my best to make sure my child only participates in moderation!
Raven Nichols March 04, 2011 at 03:57 PM
My daughter will be twelve in a few weeks, and she has her own Facebook account. However, her Facebook account comes with several rules and stipulations. First, I have her password and perform random checks in her account. Secondly, she is not allowed to Google or visit any links or pages unless we approve them first, and she has time limits and curfews in place for all her computer activities. I check her friends' pages to see what she's exposed to, and she and I discuss frequently how to be computer safety savvy. She mostly uses her account to play the Facebook games like Fishville and Cupcake Corner, but she also uses it socially. Most of her friends at school have accounts, and they share stories and videos and photos, so it keeps her in the loop, but all her activity is carefully monitored by me. This is just my opinion, but I think it's a mistake to forbid children (of a certain age) to use Facebook because of the threat of danger. It seems smarter (again, in my opinion) to teach them how to use it safely, to warn them of the danger and to have a plan of action in place if they feel pressured, threatened or uncomfortable in any way about something that might happen on Facebook. The great thing about Facebook is that nobody can interact with your child unless they are approved, and I have control over that. And my daughter's privacy settings are locked up tighter than a drum. I really like the discussions you've initiated here, Amber. Keep up the good work!
Amberr Meadows March 04, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Thank you, Raven! My daughter is 4, so we are not to the stage of having to worry about Facebook or other social networking sites...yet. However, when she gets a little older, I will allow her to have an account, but there will be stipulations in place and I'll have complete access to her account at all times. I intend to make sure her time is limited online and that she has the most important needs met first--namely homework time, physical activity, fresh air and sunshine (to name a few). Beyond the potential dangers that may arise with FB, I feel that being plugged in constantly isn't healthy. Everyone needs to have sufficient social interaction in the real world, because it's too easy for the lines of fantasy and reality to become blurred over time when constantly online.
ben gopo December 31, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Im not a mother but I am a dedicated father and my son is 17 and we will not let him get one because he is only 17!!!!!

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