There is something I’ve noticed on Facebook lately that’s got me thinking. I’ve seen a growing amount of kids with their own Facebook profiles. Technically the minimum age Facebook allows to have a profile is 13. But we all know that’s an easy enough rule to get around. I’ve seen kids I know as young as nine on there, and it makes me wonder.My own kids are eight and six and the idea of them on Facebook is ludicrous as far as I’m concerned. It will be years before I would even consider letting them on Facebook. In fact, I’m not even sure I’m ok with Facebook’s rule of having to be 13. At the same time though, for my kids at least, there is a flip side. Their Grandparents are on Facebook along with their aunts, uncles and, as they get a little older, their cousins will be too. Is it so bad to allow kids a way to regularly stay connected with family they might not see everyday?
What about kids who have siblings and even parents that are far away? What better way to keep up a daily bond with members of the family?
Though it would be easy to say that it’s not ok for kids to be on Facebook, the reality is that it’s just not that simple. Much like anything else each family and child is different and choices need to be made accordingly.
I asked a few moms I know with kids who are a variety of ages what they thought of kids on Facebook. Some moms with kids around 10 allow them to have Facebook profiles, mainly to get access to the games (games like Farmville which are pretty darn harmless in my opinion as far as games go), but with complete control and access restricted by mom.
Other mom’s felt that Facebook set the rule at 13, and that was the rule in their house as well.
What everyone could agree on was, no matter what the age, if your child is on Facebook, you should be monitoring what’s happening there. So here are a few tips for managing your child’s Facebook presence.
• Control the Login. If your child is 13 or older you can let them choose their own Login and password info. But set the rule that they must give it to you and let you know if they change it. If your child is younger or given you reason to be a little extra cautious, you choose the login and password. Some mom’s on MomConnect even mentioned that their child doesn’t even know the login info. This way they can’t even be on Facebook without going through mom first.
• Monitor regularly. Whether you have control of the login or just access to it, make sure you are checking your child’s Facebook at least once a week. Watch for new friends you don’t know. Read the messages and check the comments. There are crazy people out three, make sure your child is talking to any of them.
• Be upfront with your child. Tell them the rules. Remind them that Facebook is a public forum and it’s your job to make sure they’re safe. Tell them you’ll be watching them and reading their Facebook all the time. Be honest.
• Keep it Private! This may seem like a no brainer, but not all parents may think to double check. Make sure your child’s profile is set to private.
If even after following these tips and you still don’t want you’re under 13 years old on Facebook, compromise. Try Facebook for kids (http://fbfkids.com/). That’s right, there is a Facebook out there that is just for kids and is strictly monitored and kept safe for the under 13 set. They have games; can chat with friends, start a blog, play music and lots more.
It might be a safer compromise then actually letting your child jump into the real thing.
What do you think about kids on Facebook? Yes or no?