We Are Both Right

Kids Social Networking: I’ll Need Some ID Please

I had some big news I wanted to share a few weeks ago. My husband T. and I had just booked a trip to Disney World for our family and we weren’t telling the kids. I was bursting — bursting — to tell someone, so what did I do?

Headed over to Facebook. (Naturally.)

But before I could hit “share” on my undoubtedly witty status update, I had to stop myself. I am “friends” with some of my children’s friends on Facebook and I wasn’t sure I could count on them not to blab the big news to my kids.

Grrr. Damn you technology.

The thing is, not to sound like a grumpy old man here or anything, but these kids really shouldn’t be on Facebook, as they are all under 13 (the age the social network says it’s OK to make your own profile). So because they need to farm or do whatever it is kids are doing online these days, I had to resort to one of those super-annoying vague updates where you get 10,000 replies saying “What?” “What it is it?” “Stop teasing!”

Sigh.

My astounding ability to make everything about me aside, kids on Facebook is becoming a real issue. Facebook reports it deletes nearly 20,000 underage profiles a day. In some cases, kids are lying about their age. In other cases, the parents are allowing it.

Sorry kids, in our house, there will be no networking, no looking up of old flames, no tagging of photos, no self promotion, no pithy comments on political pages — at least until you hit the teenage years. And then we will talk about it, provided Facebook hasn’t been replaced by the next great thing, whatever it happens to be.

While I don’t really object to the idea in principle — like a cell phone, my idea of my kids on Facebook is likely very, very different from their idea of being on Facebook — and I don’t want my kids to be left behind on a social level, I have a very healthy respect for rules. And since I didn’t create Facebook, nor am I on the policy-making committee, if they say 13 is the magic number, than 13 is the magic number. Period.

What about you? Do your kids have Facebook profiles? Would you allow your underage child to have one? Why or why not?

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