Facebook: Just how young is acceptable

When I was in Idaho visiting family last week, my 10 year old nephew asked to be my Facebook friend.

Let me back up.  For those here who are my friend on Facebook, you’ll know I never use it.  Like ever.  The other night I posted baseball pictures because someone else had tagged me to see a baseball video (and I was actually in it, twice!)  But before that I hadn’t been there since…August maybe?  I’ve just never found the value in Facebook that others have.

I’ve professed my conversion to Twitter and that’s primarily where you can find me wasting time throughout the day.  I’ve just never gotten into Facebook.

I was more than a little shocked to hear my nephew uses it.  Admittedly, I haven’t been to his page yet, but what would someone that young possibly post on there?  I thought you had to be 13 to get on the site (and this is no knock against my sister.  He has an older brother who does everything and has a cell phone.  Once the first kid does something, fegettaboutit.)

It does lead me to wonder what the site can offer a young person.  Wouldn’t it be the perfect spot for creepy people to try to get at kids?  Is Facebook more protected than other sites like My Space?  I know you have to ‘friend’ someone on Facebook to see their information but it just seems scary to me that a child would be on the site.

Even someone like me can accidentally type in the wrong address in the web bar and bring up a whole lotta things they never planned to see. (Just FYI, Dick’s Sporting Goods…not the address you’d think.)  I guess I wonder how closely we should monitor our children’s internet use.  Obviously we need to approve of what sites they can go to.  Thor is only allowed to go to the Chess Foundation website that was provided by his school.  Even then, I type the address and never allow him to do it himself. 

I don’t know what to do when he wants a Facebook account.  He doesn’t know what it is currently but I’m sure that will be changing in the next few years.  He certainly knows what Twitter is, not that I’d let him anywhere near it.

What age do you think is appropriate to let kids start wandering the internet? What sites do your kids use and do you monitor what they do there?  Sound off in the comments.

*Some comments have gone missing. I don’t know why but I’m working to fix it!

9 thoughts on “Facebook: Just how young is acceptable

  1. I have a friend who's 11 yr old son signed up and then fb canceled his account because he was under the age of 13, which is the minimum age to have an account. I think parents have to keep close track of what and where the kids are doing on the internet. I know Son is not allowed to be on the computer if I am not in the room with him. And when he is old enough to have fb and other things, I will have the passwords to check what is going on there. And I will delete and block things that I do not think are appropriate.

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  2. I was very reluctant to let my kids have it, but they wanted myspace first and there are a lot less controls in place with that. At least with facebook, there are controls in place that can be customized.

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  3. My kids are OLD! 😉 21, 18 & 15. They all have a facebook account. Facebook is the BEST spy tool for moms ever! But obviously, if I can spy, so can creep people. When theywere younger teens, they had MySpace pages. I think FB is much safer than MySpace. In order to have a yapce account, they had to agree to give me their passwords. We also had regular talks about what is appropriate and what is not approprate to post. I think it's important to limit internet time, have open discussions about what sites are and are not appropriate and some checks and balances.

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  4. Originally posted by SciFi dad:I'm not sure on the TOS, but it wouldn't surprise me if it's 13 or with parental consent. My niece got an account (just turned 14) on the condition that she add some family (aunts, uncles) as friends so we can “watch” her. It's been… interesting. I've got another friend who setup her 11 year old younger brother's account (with parental permission), so I think they're getting at this stuff younger and younger now.

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  5. Originally posted by Casey:Well I'm 33 and sometimes I think I'm too OLD to be on there…. but my parents are on it so I guess that theory is out the window. As far as too young… I would say probably 14 or 15…. the age when kids are in clubs and sports and such. Ahh, what do I know.

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  6. Originally posted by Valerie:Ok I'm the one with the kid that's 10 and he has a facebook. 🙂 Both him and his brother have a facebook (both set to private) and yes his 12 year old brother does have a cell phone. I monitor everything they are on, both cell phone and facebook. They both know that I can check them at anytime so there better be good things on there. My 10 year old mostly just chats with his friends on it and he's a boy so not much actual converstation is going on. I live in a small town so I feel comfortable letting them ride their bikes around town but it's nice to be able to get a hold of them when I need to or to check on them. I remember riding my bikes miles and miles away from my house doing all sorts of things. My parents didn't even have a clue. lol Do I obsess looking at every little thing? No. I thnk you have to trust your kids and give them the benefit of othe doubt until they prove other wise.

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  7. I think that FB is very dangerous (and I am on it). The way that they handle privacy is to unilaterally remove it and not tell anyone about what they have made public until it hits the news. So, be careful. My kids are on computer but won't be on Facebook until over 13 and I will be controlling the privacy and settings for their accounts until they move to uni, I think:).

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  8. Andrea, when I last checked the TOS (when my twins asked if they could go on FB), it basically said: under 13 go away; 13-17 with parental permission; 18 and over OK. The twins were only 11 (and 1/2) so I said no. Learned afterward that my daughter went ahead and created one anyway with her friends help. When I found it, she had 73 friends – she only knew 3 of them. And when I checked her cell, found she had been talking to one of them. Scared the hell out of me and I confiscated her phone. I've just decided this should be a blog post because there's a bunch of issues… I'll let you know when it's up.

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