Topic Tuesday {Teens and Facebook}

Back when my oldest son was 11 he asked if he could go onto Facebook because some of his friends were and they played these cool games.  We knew he was going to ask sooner or later but we didn’t expect it to be the sooner and so we put him off for awhile saying that we had to do some research.

Well, research we did and we came up with a few answers thanks to friends and reading and basic dirt digging.  (I am not above dirt-digging.  We do it for the president, I will do it for my children’s friends!)

What I learned was:

a)  When you sign up with facebook and agree to their legal jargon you are, in fact, stating that you are 13 years old.

b)  Said friends who were playing, ‘cool game’ on facebook had also introduced another of my son’s classmates to porn.

c)  20% of children age 10-17 have been solicited sexually online.  That’s 1 in 5, people!

d)  9 out of 10 parents will never know that an inappropriate contact has been made.

e)  From 2007-2009 MySpace (remember them?) deleted 90,000 accounts because they belonged to registered sex offenders.

So we said, “No.”  Plain and Simple.

All we really needed was point A.  You click a button saying that you are 13.  You are 11.  We will not permit you to blatantly lie just so you can play a game.  End of story.

The rest of the statistics we shared, not to frighten, but to inform.  Being online is a big deal.  It opens up new avenues and it carries with it a new type of responsibility.  We asked if he felt that at 11 he was ready to handle these things.  He agreed that he was not so we didn’t even come out as the bad guys.

When he turned 13 he decided he didn’t want facebook.  Some friends had told him that it wasn’t all that it seems to be and it becomes more of a nuisance than necessary.  Whew.  Off the hook again.

He’s 13 and a half now and he just asked again.  This time I said yes without hesitation.  Yes because we can only say no for so long.  Yes because he has proven trustworthy in his life.  Yes because we’d rather him not doubt our word and we did say back at 11 that he had to wait until he was 13.  Yes because we don’t want to put it off for so long that the desire for him to have it becomes so great that it becomes something he may sneak.  Yes because he’s still young enough to understand that he has to give us all passwords and that we will do random checks.

But.  Of course there is a but.  What kind of parent do you think I am?!

But we have to talk first.  We have to talk about the responsibility.  We have to talk about the words we use.  We have to talk about the fact that when you put something online the entire world can see it.  Aunties and Uncles, family friends, grandma’s, university registrars and future employers.  We have to talk about representing our family and your reputation.  We have to talk about being an ambassador for Jesus even in your online interactions.

After we talked I said yes again.  Yes, you can have it.  I will pray with you and for you in new ways because of it.  I will ask you different questions now because of it.  Lastly, we’re trusting that we have taught you well and that you will operate online with integrity.

Guess what?  The boy said no!  No thanks, Mom!  I think I’ll just wait.

So my question for today is this:  Are your kids part of any social media groups?  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram? What age did you allow them to join?  If your kids are younger have you thought about these things?  What are your thoughts, given your life experience with online sites, as to when you might allow them to participate?  

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4 thoughts on “Topic Tuesday {Teens and Facebook}

  1. Loved your stats… we have Mcartney on FB ONLY because we live halfway around the world (literally) than her family and so we allow her to have an account ONLY for the use of connecting with her family. I set up her account. I made her password. I have full control of her interactions. I accept or decline her “friends” for her. IF we lived in North America and she was able to see her family every week and not just once a year, then she would not have a FB account. I agree with your logic and I applaud your (not so) little for having the maturity to say no. CHEERS to him. And CHEERS to you for your parenting. Love it. Inspired by it. Encouraged by it.

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  2. I totally get that, Sher! It’s a great tool for Mcartney to be able to connect with family and friends that are so far away! I also love the precautions that you’re taking with her and that your parenting so intentionally and not just letting her run rampant with it! I know it takes time and energy but I’m sure it’s so well worth it in the long run. I applaud you right back, good mama!!

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  3. I think they are wonderful ways to keep in touch with family and friends who are at a distance. However, I want to raise children who are not constantly glued to technology and do not know how to interact on a personal level. We have about 7 years before we reach that stage but I will also make it clear that I have complete access to whatever social media my children get involved in.

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  4. my boys dont really know about facebook yet Im starting to have to monitor Netflixs and you tube! Caleb has started to find out things like google Earth and its been fun for him to see maps of his house and make his way shot by shot to school! lol and they love to go to youtube and watch music videos for Minecraft! its fun and silly but every now and then they click something on the side bar like a minecraft rap and Im like no not that one! its got bad words in it! I also like that I can see what was watched on Netflix but they do like to go to bed and watch some silly show before bed which Im ok with I just make sure Im on top of seeing what they are clicking on so they dont by mistake click something they shouldnt! (rielly is the worst for that!) I do like that my place is small so I can hear and or see everything (computer is in the main room) but there still is the Ipad and its not my boys so much as its other kids! the other day one of Lincolns friends came over and I heard him say lets look up killing things on you tube! Im like nope you are done with that! and I will make sure they dont get the Ipad any time that child comes over! Im trying to be proactive about the internet. not hide it and not let them use anything but see what they watch and interact with them!

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