Children and Facebook

children on Facebook
Children, to Facebook or not to Facebook

Many people have Facebook these days and some people don’t feel that Facebook is for them. I enjoy it, I think it helps keep me connected, seeing as how I live so far away from my family and friends. One day about a year ago, my oldest daughter (14 years old) decided that I should have a Facebook account and she set one up for me (she is much more computer savvy than I am)! I check in every day to see what my friends and family are up to, what new recipes are up on my friend Eileen’s cooking site and what cool crafts have been posted on my favorite craft site or my other favorite craftsite. I also have a business Facebook fan page called Laura Lee Burch Studio to promote my artwork; I post my artwork and photography every day on my Studio site.

I post my photography
I post my photography on my Laura Lee Burch Studio Facebook site

The girls know that they must not “friend” anyone they don’t know and that they need to tell me if someone is “bothering” them. I go over the friends with my younger daughter to make sure she really knows the people in her group of friends and how she knows them. My oldest daughter has a Facebook account and almost 400 friends from all over the world. (who knows that many people?) She chats with many people at the same time, in 4 different languages; when this happens, she has 3, 4, 5 chat boxes up simultaneously, she’s an advanced user. Now that is too much for me. I feel like the kid who sits at the back of the class and rarely participates compared to her.

Are your kids ready for a Facebook account?
Facebook for kids?

I think all people using Facebook should imagine that all their Facebook friends are sitting around a big table at a dinner party and act as such. To help my children determine what is appropriate or inappropriate to say, to help them stay out of trouble, I tell them to “pretend all your Facebook friends are sitting around a big picnic table together”. What is appropriate to tell others about yourself, your family or about your friends? Would you gossip about others in front of their face or should you be gossiping at all? Would you risk insulting a friend by saying something insulting or mean? I often need to discuss with my children examples of something they might feel like saying but others might deem insulting. One of my daughters has forgotten her manners once or twice and suffered the social consequences, I think she’s learned her lesson now. I have to keep a close eye on my children and their Facebook accounts: I watch that they don’t post inappropriate photos or links and if they do, they need to take them down. I insist on being a Facebook  “friend” to my kids so that I can see what they post. My oldest daughter sometimes accuses me of “stalking” her if I comment on something she posted on Facebook (choosing my battles, I keep my comments to a minimum), but I tell my kids that as their mother, this is how it will be if they are allowed to have an account-no discussion.

computers and kids
Children's computer activities should be closely monitored.

 My youngest daughter is definitely not old enough to have a Facebook account even though many of her friends have one (8years old). How do I know this? I know she’s not ready for Facebook because she says things to people (face to face) that she shouldn’t. I know because she regularly gets thrown out of Fairy World (a kid’s computer game) for inappropriate behavior such as calling other fairies names! (Those fairies are mean, I much prefer that she plays with the penguins). No matter what age, I limit all the girls’ time on the computer, if I don’t it takes over their lives. I stress diversity in their daily activities because the computer and Facebook especially (many are attracted to the games offered on Facebook) will turn them into computer zombies.

NOTE: What I deem appropriate for my children, may not be what is best for your children.