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Fayette-Mom: Social networking and kids

Posted February 21, 2011

Jennifer Joyner

In this age of social networking, what are the rules?

I mean, I can’t imagine my kids, ages 7 and 5, having a Facebook page. Their internet use is limited to educational sites and the occasional viewing of iCarly episodes. They don’t even know what Facebook or Twitter is, thank goodness.

It’s not that I don’t like social network sites. I love the way Facebook has reunited me with old friends, and the fact that I am more in tune to what everyone is doing. (Although I must say, it’s a little disconcerting when a Facebook message replaces an actual phone call about important events — are we headed toward getting rid of our phones altogether? Alas, that’s a different post).

What concerns me a bit is when I get friend requests from a 10-year-old neighbor or an 11-year-old niece. On the one hand, I am delighted to keep up with them and what’s going on in their lives. But I’m horrified when they change their status to “In a Relationship”. A relationship? At 11 years old? My word, I am not ready for this.

I accept these requests, but then I find myself censoring my posts. Not that my updates are all that tawdry, mind you; some of them are just meant to be enjoyed by people of a certain age. Ahem.

So, what are the rules? Do you allow your kids to have a Facebook page? Do you monitor their updates? I know one mom who regularly logs on as her son and takes a look at everything he’s done. This sounds logical to me, but I’d love to know what you think about kids and social networks.

I’ve got a few years before I have to worry about this as a parent. But then again, who knows what will be the hot trend when my kids become teenagers. It makes me shudder to think of the possibilites.

Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in September. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.



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  • dadsgoose98 Mar 1, 2011

    I heard that Ms. Laura Leslie is expecting a baby in July and will be joining the Go Ask Mom blog.Is there an address we can send cards or gifts too?

  • hihuwatlu Feb 23, 2011

    13 is a fairly good guideline but I doubt most teens have the maturity needed until high school (age 14 or 15). I have a 9th grader and her maturity level has increased a lot this year. I'm seeing that with her friends as well and they all seem to have "cleaner" pages now. That being said, it's really difficult to prevent them from getting one unless your child is under your supervision 24/7. They can always create one while at a friends house or even using a friends phone or itouch these days.

  • howdiditgettothis Feb 22, 2011

    My SIL (who is a facebook "diva" -- can't go to the bathroom without posting it on her fb) has two children who have facebook pages, and have had for 2 years. Mind you, one child is 8 & the other is 6. (yes, she had them on at 6 & 4). My inlaws encourage this, as well.

    I think they are crazy (they think their son & I are "weird" parents).

    My kids are 7 & 5 now. They might enjoy one hour one evening a week playing computer related games (whether Wii, or computer game or the like). Between school work, and home chores, not sure when these folks & their kids have all this time to be on FB.

    Of course, the four of us actually TALK to each other................

  • bikely Feb 22, 2011

    My oldest is 9, and has shown no interest at all in FB. (I am considerably older than that and have no interest in FB either, but I know I am in the minority there).
    He did want to "tweet" so we set him up on twitter- posted 3 tweets and that was the end of that too. I think 12-13 with close monitoring would be ok for FB....but who has the time to keep up with all that junk?

  • ccregister4 Feb 22, 2011

    I will continue to be a "bad" mom and hold fast that my 11 year old will not have a facebook page. She can use mine when needed. She is the minority in her class and friends. I was looked at like a crazy person when I told her cheerleading coach that she didn't have a facebook page and would need to be contacted another way. Got the same look from the youth leader at church but with a little more understanding...maybe. That's ok because I'm standing firm on what I can control for as long as I can. That's my responsibility as a parent.

  • smartmomma Feb 22, 2011

    Wow, who let's their 11 year old child have a Facebook page? Are parents forgetting that they can say no? Even 13 seems young to me, but I may change my mind when my kids reach that age. I'm thinking 15 or 16 personally.

  • Jammer512 Feb 22, 2011

    You can let your children have a FB page but keep the rules clear.
    1) I will ahve your password and can check your account at any moment I wish.
    2) If I find something I do not like then I can kill your account and any and all computer privlidges you have.

    if the kids know you are looking over their shoulder then they will conduct themselves that way.

  • MonkeyFace Feb 22, 2011

    My sister's kids all have fb. the youngest doesn't really get on there much but to play games and to poke here and there. But the oldest two, both barely teens, are always updating theirs. The oldest, all of 13, changes who she's in a relationship with every couple of weeks

  • kimwells Feb 22, 2011

    We've had this discussion at our house with an 11 year old and 9 year old. They both have friends who have FB pages and they want them also, but we told them NO! The terms say you must be 13 to have an FB account, so they will wait until at least then. In the meantime, if they want to play cartown, or farmtown, or whatever the game of the moment is, they can use mine and play the game - they don't need to see all the other things on there. And IF and WHEN they get an FB page, it will be our discretion who they get to select and add as friends!

  • jkca Feb 22, 2011

    Here's what I think Jennifer. There is no reason why a child under the age of 13 should have a FB page. I have seen where there are 9 year olds with FB pages. Most teenagers do not have the capability to judge whether or not some "neat person" they met on FB is a sexual predator or not, let alone, preteens and younger. FB is an unnecessary evil for children....just like cell phones. But that's an old story :)