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.