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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Facebook Won't Let Kids Under 13 On - Right.

Facebook is making a big deal right now about how its begun policing its site looking for kids under the age of 13. Wake-up call - I have friends on Facebook, who are the kids of friends of mine who are not 13, and they've been on it quite awhile. I'm sure they have some restrictions but all of a sudden Facebook is getting a conscience. Give me a break.

I don't know about the rest of you but both my son and daughter figured out how to get around online parental controls by the age of  nine. Of course you can ban them from the Internet - that's happening - but the bottom line is if they want to go on Facebook, G-Chat, YouTube, and most of the other Internet options out there, they will. Right now my daughter is into gmail video ichat and my son is searching everything and anything online.

For parents, who are worried about predators, other psychos, porno, access to drugs, alcohol, and many other of the lovely things our kids can find online, it's a big problem. But in the end, you have to remember that if you ban something it makes much more attractive. And the teenage brain is about finding a way around the parental controls.

So what do you do? Well if you're divorced, like I am, you learn to accept that you have absolutely no control over what they do in their dad's house. We both have our own rules (his online ones seem to be none) and parent the way it works for each of us.

This particular post is about Facebook. I actually agree with the no usage under 13 rule. My son first was allowed to use Facebook at the end of 8th grade with one caveat, he had to friend his mother. For those parents who have rejected Facebook as a place that young people congregate, I beg to differ. I have reconnected with a lot of people on Facebook, some I wanted too and others I really didn't. But you don't have to use it or answer people if you don't want too. And my page is private so if you don't know me, and I don't want to know you, then you won't.

You can learn a lot from keeping an eye on your kid's Facebook page. And you should be on it and taking a look at it every once in awhile.

We had one blow up early on when I saw my son on Facebook and he was supposed to be doing his homework. I posted right on his page "Why are you on Facebook when you are finishing a project?" He immediately de-friended me. We renegotiated and he took me back. I never posted on his page again.

It's not what your kid posts so much as what his friends do. Although by now many of their pages are protected - they still post stuff on his page and it gives you a microcosm of what's really going on. The photos and videos can be pretty telling too - who's in them - what are they doing - do they look like they've been drinking or doing drugs? Or are they clear eyed and smiling?

By now, my son has hundreds of Facebook friends from all over the area, and probably the country and world. I can't keep track of all of them, nor do I want too. If he wanted to start a Facebook page under a different name he could. But so far he hasn't. He even dumped Facebook for awhile but then he went back.

My daughter - well she's only 11 and Facebook is not on her radar right now. But I'm sure it will be soon.

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