Posted in Motherhood

Four graders have no place on Facebook

I don’t have a Facebook page nor do I plan on getting one. However, my ten-year old wants a page and has shown me his friends Facebook pages but I am not sure that a Facebook page is appropriate for a ten year old. Further, none of his friends Facebook pages are private. If I ever decide, and at this point I will not, for my son to have one, his page would be private. So, how young is too young for a Facebook page?

According to research studies, even though the age requirement for Facebook and MySpace is 13, more and more children under age 13 are using these social networks. Further, most children under age 13 have their parents permission to create a Facebook page. However, I am sure I agree that a ten year old is mature enough to be using social networking sites so I told my son to ask me when he was fifteen. Maybe, I am turning into my mother but I want to be able to protect my children from the internet world for as long as I can. I have only recently let him join ToonTown and allowed him to visit YouTube and I constantly watch him while he is online.

The other issue is that even teens do not realize the real world consequences of the virtual world so how is a ten year old supposed to? The risks of social networking could be high especially for immature minds. There are college recruiters and potential employers scanning these pages to find out about potential students and employees, and while my son is probably too young for me to worry about this, it still makes sense to be concerned. Further, downloading applications is a hazard because apps can give you anything from sports updates to weather reports and even proposition your Facebook friends for sex. What about online predators and the fact that our children do not yet understand the concept of privacy?

Children at age ten and even thirteen do not understand the consequences nor do they understand the concept of social responsibility on the internet. Moreover, they do not understand emotional safety, physical safety, and the safety of their reputations. Facebook is an adult-oriented social network and there are social networks out there for children ages 10 to 15 such as YourSphere and FaceChipz. For children as young as age 5, there is a kid-friendly version of Facebook called KidSwirl.

There is a book by John Robinson titled “Anyone You Want Me to Be” that tells the story of the first internet serial killer. Anyone can pretend to be anything on the internet and teens and young children are particularly vulnerable especially if they send out personal information and photographs of themselves. As parents, it is our responsibility to know what our children are doing and to set limits. Also, it is important to talk to them without scaring them about the potential outcomes of their actions.

What are you thoughts on children and social networking? How young is too young for Facebook, MySpace and the variety of other adult-oriented social networking sites?


12 thoughts on “Four graders have no place on Facebook

  1. I completely agree with you. 10 is entirely too young. A friend of mine's daughter is 15 and has no business on there! She has given out her real name, posted questionable pics, etc.As parents it's our job to keep our children as safe as we possibly can until they reach the age of maturity. Or turn 18. LOL

  2. Personally, I love FACEBOOK! Both my 11 and 13 year have accounts. My 11 year old loves to post photos and play games. What I like is that as a "friend" I see everything that is going on with her account. We mostly have the same friends since she "friends" my friends and her friends are fine "friending" me. In fact, I feel like I get to know her friends better based on what they post – oneday a friend posted something like "I have a great mom". In fact, her friends will often chat with me and share information about books they are reading. Facebook gives my daughter a chance to chat each day with my sister that lives in another state and through pictures and chats has developed a great relationship with a cousin she doesn't see often. For myself I have reconnected with many people and find that a wonderful experience. In our house we tend to not fear the internet. We look at all the benefits of using the internet compared to the disadvantages. We of course talk a lot about the scary things but those scary things can happen by living life. Our children are growing up in a technological world and I have heard of too many stories of kids that got accounts behind their parents backs that I would prefer we have open communication about it.I feel safer knowing exactly what is going on than not. Each family has to do what feels right for their family but for ours, FACEBOOK has been great!

  3. I love facebook too and my 12-year-old daughter has one. She likes myspace better because she can listen to music lol….All of her pages are set to private. I know her passwords and monitor who her friends are. I tell her all the time to never accept a friend request of someone she doesn't know. I am always checking her friends list to make sure they are people we know. Most are friends from her school and family. I also tell her to never post anything personal on her status like where she is going, etc. I think the social networks are fine for kids as long as you monitor them and set some strict rules. I even monitor the type of music she puts on her myspace. At 10, she might not have been mature enough for it but you know your own kid and how they are. I like facebook, cause its all out in the open and I can see what people post on her page. Also, I get an email notification when someone is added to her myspace and facebook and also when someone sends her an email. The IM thing is not something I can really monitor but she can only IM someone on her friends list which I'm ok with. Good luck…parenting in the 2000s is scary huh? Next, the cell phone subject is another thing to monitor…just wait for that lol

  4. Cathy,I agree that internet has its benefits but I am not ready at age 10 for facebook. Perhaps, if I had my own facebook page, I would think differently. I am also a bit concerned that his friends that have facebook pages do not have private accounts. This also goes back to a parent feeling ready, and I am not ready for him to have a facebook page. Maybe I will in a year or two, but right now is way too soon.

  5. Dee,I am pretty sure I am being a Jewish mother. Maturity is definately a factor here because at age, I was alot more mature than my son and his friends. He has begged me to let him watch "Family Guy" because all his friends watch it but I won't give in. I gave into wrestling shows a couple years ago because I felt he was emotionally ready. I, as his parent, do not feel he is ready for social networking. Maybe in a couple years, but not yet today.

  6. Leslie,I agree with you that monitoring is the key but emotionally, I don’t think he is ready. He got a cell phone for Christmas and it is a prepaid one, and I have seen responsibility from him that I can be really proud of. He is going to NYC for Spring Break to visit his aunt (with his 18 year old uncle), and a year or two ago, I would have tied him to my side, but I am getting there and so his he. I think also that at about age 12, you start to see the real maturity kick in and you can look towards that to see what the teen years will be like. You are absolutely right about parenting being more difficult in the 21st century. He is a good kid and responsible, but mature, not so much. He needs time and Facebook is not where I want to start.

  7. Hey Lana, I absolutely agree with you on 10 being to young to be on FB. And some of the stuff on YouTube is way over the line in my opinion. I am on the internet more than I should be, there are a lot of benefits, but there is a lot of bad stuff on it as well. My daughter, at 10, trusted everyone to be as honest as she was, unfortunately they are not. I have a FB page and stay in contact with a lot of old classmates as well as several dual sport riders.

  8. Terry,That is how my son is and I get blue in the face trying to explain that that not all people are good. I let him use YouTube because he is into the WWE stuff, but I keep a close eye and our desktop PC is in our living room and he is not allowed to take my laptop into another room. I am not really into facebook and I am not really ready for it myself so why let my son? The outside world is scary and I am not ready to let go even though I see other parents doing just that. I don't let my son go anywhere alone not even to the park which is in our condo complex. He has to have someone with him at all times. It drives him nuts but I am not ready to give him that kind of independance and it may not have happen for a few more years. It is not him that I do not trust – it is the outside world. Times have changed and there is not a damn thing we can do about it.

  9. Yeah…you know your son best and how mature he is with handling these social networks. I have seen some kids on there 7 and 8 years old…. my daughter was not ready for this stuff until she was 11 and I am still very strict about it. Our computer is in the living room too and she uses the desktop. You just cant be too cautious these days.

  10. I personally LOVE Facebook but wouldn't let me kids have their own page till maybe high school and I agree, ONLY private. Guess what! I finally officially got a diagnosis of fibromyalgia and bursitis of hips and knees. Doc still doesn't know why my hands and feet hurt–he said all my tendons are inflamed??? So confusing. More tests. You're awesome, thanks for all your advice!!!

  11. Rachel,I glad you find got a diagnosis. Lyrica for fibromyaliga works really fast – you can see results in about a week. I take Gabapentin because Lyrica is expensive but I am thinking of going back to Lyrica but it seems like the effect of the Gabapentin is wearing. I do not know much about bursitis but it can be caused by chronic overuse, trauma, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or infection. Treatments includes NSAIDS (like Aleve and Advil), physical therapy and corticosteroids. In some cases, it is caused by infection and antibotics can be used to treat. I hope they figure out what is going on with your hands and feet. It is not easy but like I have said before, be your own advocate – no one else will do it for you.

  12. I like facebook and was okay with my older daughter joining when she's 13. However, my younger daughter (just turned 11) decided to ask her father (my ex) to set her up on facebook and did not even tell me. Not impressed to say the least. When I eventually found out, I changed her account to private and learned her password and demanded that I be her "friend" so I can keep tabs on what she is doing.

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