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Is Facebook a Better Parent Than You???

Many people use Facebook to stay in touch with out-of-state family members.

For instance, some folks think it’s cute to let there kids, who are younger than Facebook’s required mimimum age of 13 years old, have a page to communicate back and forth with grandparents.

And that’s fine if a parent is monitoring the content and establishing appropriate parental blocks.

I’m not telling people how to raise their kids, but I will raise awareness regarding some startling Facebook statistics that parents need to know if they have kids using that social media channel.

According to a survey of 1,000 parents by the group MinorMonitor here are some of the highlights of the research:

  • 38% of their kids younger than 12 years of age had a Facebook page;
  • 40 of the 1,000 respondents said they allowed their kindergartners to have a Facebook page;
  • 74% of the parents admitted that they were worried about the Facebook content their kids came across;
  • 56% claimed that their top fear was their child coming in contact with a sexual predator on Facebook.

Again, this research was conducted by MinorMonitor which offers a service that allows parents to check what their kids are doing on Facebook.

While that service may be worthwhile, I’m simply dumbfounded that parents who allow their underage kids to have a Facebook page can then turn around and admit that they’re worried about the content their children may encounter.

This is a problem that most parents face, they trust their kids but not other individuals. But why put your child into harm’s way at all? Facebook is not a requirement of U.S. citizenship. There’s no law mandating our kids be online before they’re a teenager. Does this shock anybody else?

The bottom line is that these parents have little standing to complain about something that they’re admittedly allowing to happen. How can  a rational parent allow their underage, preteen to have a Facebook page and then fret that the kid may have a run in with a sexual predator?

It makes no sense.

One of the most important responsibilities of a parent is providing a safe and secure environment for their child. I question the decision-making ability of a parent who allows their preteen to have a Facebook page – when Facebook itself recommends NOT allowing it.

In this regard, it seems that Facebook is making a better parental decision than many parents who flout Facebook policies.

Ultimately, somebody has to be the grown-up.

Parents shouldn’t abdicate that responsibility to Facebook.

Question: Does your child or grandchild have their own Facebook page? Why or why not?

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  1. None of my kids has a FB page, and they have very limited access to the online world. I used to volunteer for a site with a message board, and even though it was closely monitored, I saw things that curled my hair. Someone has to manually remove a lot of that content, so it’s entirely possible for a kid to stumble across awful, awful stuff.

    I even help my kids with internet searches for homework. Sick, sick people tag inappropriate things to come up in what should be an innocuous search.

  2. My kids were not allowed to have Facebook or Myspace (as was the teen popular thing when they started) until they were 14. And then I REQUIRED them to have me as a friend on their page. I frequently made them take things off that they posted or remove a contact I didn’t know where they came from.

    The problem is, most people, as is the case with just about everything in their lives, find it easier to sit back and let life happen rather than taking an active roll. Whether its raising their kids, taking care of their health or making more money, people find it easier not to make any decisions.

    We are a passive society and will never prosper past our current point unless that trend changes.

  3. Donna Cavanagh says:

    My daughter always knew we were watching her on social media. That was a given. I am amazed at how some parents have no clue what their children write about.

  4. Carolina HeartStrings says:

    I have an even worse story: an employee who has a 3 yo child with a woman that set up that kid with his own page so he can post hate (and profanity laced) comments about his father when they’re fighting. The comments are of course entered by the mother but written in first person as though the child was the poster. I wish fb would monitor such things although I am not supportive of censorship overall.

  5. We had the same rules as Nicole Bandes…14, we’re friends, we have their passwords. In addition, grandparents, youth leaders, pastor, etc. are all their FB friends. When they know that they are pretty much the only thing in Grandma’s news feed, they’re a little more careful about what they put out there!

    We monitored VERY closely (with software) for the first year or so, and as they demonstrated good judgement and good choices, we’ve started letting them make a few more choices on their own, but it’s still a frequent topic of conversation. Just last night at dinner, in fact, our younger daughter got to learn how to apologize for “liking” something that she shouldn’t have.

  6. I no longer have little kids, Tor, as you know. But, I’m with you.
    I let my children have eMail addresses from the time they could type. Now, admittedly, the older ones had few friend so blessed with internet (or web access or modem access) when they were younger. But, my contacts around the world shared their children with my children. The provision for such access was a valid name (not Roy A Ackerman- but RAAckerman) and that I would have access (when, if, and should required). And, we discussed the issues with conversing with folks you may never see- and why meeting them may not be the best idea. But, they learned how to communicate, they learned of new cultures, etc. Once they had conversed long enough, we let them transfer photos (back then this was not click and go- it required computer expertise- which I did not share with them).
    My younger- who is about to turn 21!- had a whole different world at his disposal. Who was among the first FB users. (Who is still not my “friend”, I might add…) But, he also got the lectures and discussions about safety. And learned early on that not all FB denizens are nice people (he was infected by a virus from one of them long ago)….

  7. My kids do not have a facebook account as of yet. I would suspect that our daughter will have one in a the not so distant future, but our son is too young. As parents, we will make the call as to when our kids have access to this “tool”.

  8. dfd

  9. Facebook will actually do more than recommend. They occasionally will shut down the page of a minor. I think society generally has a hard time saying “no” to anyone. Raising our kids that way will make it worse.

  10. kimbervanry says:

    Having a 12-year-old son, I’m aware of peers of his who have FB accounts. Luckily, this isn’t even a discussion with us because my son simply doesn’t want to be on FB. I think FB’s policy should be heeded by parents and then their children’s activity should be shared. At the same time, the whole “stranger danger” thing, whether online or in the real world, is an enormous amount of media-fuled nonsense, but that’s a tiopic for another time.

    However, I don’t think this is different whether it’s FB, watching TV, playing video games, surfing the web, etc. — if your kid is participating in something, the parent should be involved, take an interest and stay educated. My son loves video games and he loves playing online with people all over the country — boys, girls, college kids and adults. Being in NYC, all this activity takes place right in the middle of our apartment in the living room, so all activity is monitored — there’s no bedroom, den or rec room in the basement that would provide any opportunity to hide. I don’t play, but I read video game magazines and blogs. I sit and listen, ask about the people he’s playing with. It’s an absolutely incredible community that is collaborative and largely self-monitors itself — people who are misanthropic hot-headed cursing jerks generally get ousted from games and people don’t choose to play with them.

    And, don’t get me started on the movie ratings system in this country — I’ve always explained to my boys that there are many G-rated films I find intellectually offensive and some R-rated films which are true masterpieces that should be consumed by more people of more ages.

    So, as with all things, there are policies (good and bad) for most things, but I’d rather particiapte in my kids’ lives to raise healthy decision-makers rather than followers of the crowd online or in reality…

  11. We have two girls. One 15 and the other 13(nearly 14). They both have had a FB page for about a year. We have their login info and monitor their activity openly. If we see something that doesn’t fit our family structure we address it then delete it from their page. They are fantastic kids so we don’t worry about their choices as much as their inexperience. Recently we had a social media training session. The both had wall posts that were better as email messages. We talked about it, dumped the back and forth commenting posts and started over with them better equipped. The key here is that our regular monitoring and access was part of the stipulation of entering the FB world.

  12. Facebook for a kid in KINDERGARTEN? Sheesh. The only website my 4 1/2 year old uses is pbskids.org. And that is after he asks if he can use the computer. I have one browser set to that as it’s home page and so he knows to just click on that to bring it up.

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