Written by Doctor G

Don’t lie to get your kid on Facebook.

Dr. G, I saw your tweet recently about the article on parents lying for under 13 year old kids who want a Facebook page. What is wrong with that? If I monitor them online like you said, why shouldn’t I let my daughter have a facebook page. She is more mature than some 13 year olds and it is a good way for her to interact with family and friends.

@Anonymous from Twitter

I hear you! Facebook does not seem nearly so harmful as other “hang outs” online. Why not let your daughter (under your supervision) have a page and talk to her friends? Share pictures, gather groups of friends?

Our pre-teens make compelling arguments for a Facebook page. The mild end starts with “But all my friends…” and the pleading can rise in intensity to “I’ll never get invited anywhere, I’ll have NO FRIENDS!” Many kids are so compelling that we find ourselves believing this to be the case.

I believe that there are good reasons that Facebook doesn’t allow pages to children under 13. Poor judgment is probably the biggest problem. Who you connect to, and who they are in turn connected to, can open the cyber-security door to strangers, strangers who target children for all kinds of nastiness. In addition, the fact that whatever a person posts or messages or shares or links to becomes the property of facebook and never goes away. Not to mention the fact that most grad schools have people in their admissions office whose job it is to search the social networking history of every applicant.

But none of this is the MAIN REASON to hold off until your daughter’s 13th birthday on a Facebook page. Want to know why it doesn’t matter how much you control, monitor or protect? That even if you could 100% guarantee her safety I would still say don’t do it?

It’s the rule.

When you teach your 11 or 12 year old to break a rule, and lie to do it, you are saying “It’s sometimes OK to cheat and to lie.” There is no way around this. Your kids will be grateful if you get them a Facebook page. But you won’t be. Even if they never throw this in your face, you will have undermined the foundation of the lessons you’ve been teaching.

Don’t do it. Their lives won’t end. Be the parent.

I know it’s awful to cause your child pain. And the pain is real. But our job as parents is to see the big picture. The big picture is that a Facebook page at 12 is not necessary, and good character is.

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15 thoughts on “Don’t lie to get your kid on Facebook.”

  1. I totally agree with you. Most of the kids I know do have FB pages, many under the age of 10, and not only will I not let my kids have one, I won’t friend any children on FB.

    I actually think there’s potentially more pain possible in having the FB page than not – opening themselves up to bullies, etc….I look at it as protecting them, not hurting them.

  2. THANK YOU, Dr.G. I am so comforted and glad to know I’m not the only person out there who feels this way. We are living in a world where respect of laws, rules, guidelines and what our parents and teachers tell us is just constantly questioned and disregarded. There’s a reason children are by law required to live with adults. When it’s coming from a a place of love, we know better than children do. We need to start acting like the grownups we are.

    1. It is so hard to deny our kids, Sue. And it should be hard to do. But we should step up and do it, when it’s the right thing.

  3. Be the parent – too many parents are busy being friends with their kids trying to be all going with the flow to not upset the kid staying on their good side. Let me be on their bad side for a minute – they’ll tell you it’s the end of the world but it isn’t. <–remind me of this when my time comes.. I could not imagine being 12 or 13 and having a facebook back then – those times were over stimulating enough without the aid of seeing it or being stalked by it…
    I'm already using the "I'm not so and so's mom" when she pulls out the who else is doing it card. It's gotta be thought of more of a manager, help them make those decisions. We are dealing with dying a second grader's hair..

    1. I think there must be a great reason that kids compare themselves to each other so often, and us to other kids’ parents. But I’m not sure what that reason could possibly be! What did you do about his/her hair?

  4. I agree! Don’t teach your kids it’s ok to lie. Rules are rules. If your child wants to play a sport, wants a Facebook page, or wants to learn to drive. Follow the rules of organization, sport, or country. It’s a life lesson. Be the parent!

  5. Excellent advice. I was waiting for the “real” reason, and when you said “it’s the rule,” it kind of hit me. It’s so simple. Love this. And I am NOT looking forward to what the fad will be in 10 years when my kids are this age.

  6. I have no intention of teaching my kids to follow every arbitrary rule the world enacts. I can think of countless examples of rules that were dumb/evil that were only overturned because people refused to say ‘that’s the rule’.

    Rules are agreements. I teach my kids that there are consequences if you break agreements, and you need to understand and accept those consequences if you break the rules. So, the consequence of breaking facebook’s rule is that your account could be deleted. If you, the parent, allow your child to use facebook, then they have to accept that potential consequence. We don’t need a world full of administratiave clones. We need a world of free-thinking human beings who weigh alternatives and make good decisions.

    As to Grad Schools searching their students social network accounts, that’s a whole other batch of problems for which I hope the Grad Schools are prepared to face the consequences.

    1. Patrick,
      I appreciate your point of view. And for adults, I tend to agree. Rules are agreements, and breaking them has consequences. But for children aged 8-12 who are just recently passed concrete reasoning and are horrified by any hypocritical behavior, teaching that some rules are OK to break and some are not can have lasting consequences all their own.

      There are rules that it is reasonable to break. If, for example, there is a dying parent and the hospital rule is to not allow children under the age of 12 into a room, I will move heaven and earth to get that child in to see that parent. For facebook, however, I think the motivation to break the rule is “Because I want to.” That does not seem like a good enough reason.

      I am thrilled that you talk to your kids about these issues. After all, that has the most lasting impact on our children’s character.

  7. I cannot sand that parents allow this….it teaches our kids to break tech rules which is the start down a slippery slope

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