Part 2: Should Your Child Be on Facebook?

Last week I shared part one of Should Your Child Be on Facebook?  I shared the benefits of allowing your older child to have a Facebook account.  I'll bet there were some things that surprised you, weren't there?  Well, this week, I might surprise you again when I share the drawbacks and even the dangers of having your child on Facebook. One big Facebook No No is if your child is under age.  Don’t start too young.  Facebook rules say you have to be 13 to create an account.  The only way around this is if you lie.  I've met some parents--even Christian parents--who tell me they allow their 11 year old children to misrepresent their age to Facebook in order to get an account.  Not only is this against the rules, but this is a bad lesson to communicate to your children: it's okay to lie sometimes.   You may not come right out and say so, but this communicates the message indirectly. Privacy is another issue that we all have to contend with on a public social network like Facebook.  It's even more of a challenge for the young who believe they are invincible.  Nothing bad can happen to them!  They're Super Kid!  Laugh not for this is what many young people think is true of many issues.  It's actually a recent scientific discovery that teenagers brains do not yet allow them to think things through as adults do.  They tend to make rash decisions.  It's so easy to give away too much information on the net and that can land you in trouble with friends or open you to potentially harmful consequences. If you're a homeschooler, you've often been asked, "What about socialization?"  Well, what about it on Facebook?  If your child is on Facebook and you are not monitoring it closely, he could end up friends with folks that give him the wrong kind of socialization.  There is a growing trend to be less cordial and much more brazen when you don't have to look the other person in the eye.  This may not be the kind of social time you want your 13 year old to have. Too much time online may discourage in person friendships and take time away from homework, chores or family interaction. While Facebook may be a great way to ease shy people into communication situations as we talked about last week, it is also an easy way for shy people to retreat into themselves and avoid human contact.  They may become comfortable socializing ONLY if they are not face to face with someone.  This may have the reverse effect. As a corollary to being treated badly by others on Facebook, the idea that nobody can see you may make children feel like these relationships are not real which will allow them to feel more inclined to treat people with less grace themselves.  This behavior may transfer over to real life. Finally, children may have a problem choosing their friends wisely.  It may be hard to police their Facebook activities fully.  This may leave them time to friend people with whom you may not want them to have contact.  If you have a Facebook account and are friends with your child, he may get a friend invitation from one of your adult friends.  This may make him feel uncomfortable about saying no and/or may open this person's friends to do the same. These are just a few of the issues, dangers or drawbacks in allowing your child to have a Facebook account. I think each child is different and each parent will need to take these issues into account before deciding whether or not to grant permission to each child and at what age. What has your experience been with children on Facebook?  What do you think is the right age for your child?  What considerations, restrictions or instructions have you given your children?  Or do you allow them to be on at all?  Share!


  • Carla

    I honestly think the age depends on the child. Some are more mature at 9 or 10; others not even at 16. We went through a mess with MySpace accounts when our mostly grown kids were younger. They had them unbeknownst to us after we told them NO as the age limit for MySpace then was 14. We made one kid take it down in front of us. We wrote letters to MySpace alerting them to our kids names and true ages. We signed up for accounts ourselves so we could check periodically if they had put their pages back up. When Facebook came out, two of them were of age so the deal was that I was on their friends list. My boys occasionally post things I don’t like but unless it’s really, really bad, I stay out of it. I find that most of their FB friends are local and most of those have been here in person many times.

    I know a lot of Christian parents who allow their kids to lie to get a FB account. I don’t think that’s right, nor do I think most kids under 13 should be on FB. I think you are being very modest in what can happen from this type of thing. We have had several local incidents of folks stalking young kids on FB where the cops have had to intervene. I always wonder how many others there are where the cops have yet to be notified ‘cuz parents don’t know what’s going on in their kids’ accounts. It’s oftentimes very difficult for parents to keep control in today’s world.

  • jojosblog

    Thanks for posting a link to my blog,

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  • jojosblog

    I agree with you, Carla. It really does depend on the child and there have been many horrible stories that came from children exposing too much info on FB.

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