Should I Let Griffin Have A Facebook Account?

If you’ve spent any time around tweens or teens, it might seem that they have disappeared into the on-line world – iPods, mobile devices and lap tops are status quo. Many parents of younger children I’ve spoken with have concerns that on-line activity like social media and gaming will create introverted loners.

Griffin, our 11-year-old, keeps bugging me for a Facebook account.  My first my response was no.  Gosh, just writing that makes me feel stale.  Am I only saying no because of an irrational fear of what might happen?  Well, I think I owe him better than that, so I looked into it.
A Pew Study found that “people who regularly use digital technologies are more social than the average American and more likely to visit parks and cafes, or volunteer for local organizations”.  That doesn’t sound bad.

As I dig into it, I find more and more reasons to reconsider.  I keep finding professors who study the topic endorsing social relations on the internet.  At worst, the good outweighs the bad.

So, here are my primary remaining concerns:

1.  Marketing.  I know, I have a product for kids.  But mine promotes literacy, so that makes me O.K., right?  I don’t want junk food and bad pop music being pushed on Griffin.

2. Bullying.  Well, he hasn’t really had much of that in his life, but I can monitor that even better than what happens outside our home.

3. Kathy.  She is against it for now.  That is a for sure deal breaker.

4. Griffin is not 13 years old.  We would be breaking a rule.  I don’t think we would be breaking the law, though.  Like, if I let him watch a PG13 movie, would I go to jail?  I’m thinking no, but still it is a white lie.

5.  I don’t want him to grow up.  The psychology behind that could take up a book.

What do you think?  Would you do it?  He keeps dropping names of kids that have accounts.  I even had him show me some profiles to prove it.  I’m still not sure.  But according to recent research and expert opinions, the question is now becoming “Am I holding Griffin back if I don’t let him have a Facebook account.”

http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2010/The-future-of-social-relations.aspx

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/11/02/kids.social.networks/index.html

9 Comments

Filed under educational gaming, literacy, parenting, Reading, skatekids

9 responses to “Should I Let Griffin Have A Facebook Account?

  1. This is a great article by writer Marjie Knudsen. She has some great observations on the meaning and value that FB can have in the lives of kids:
    http://blog.oregonlive.com/themombeat/2009/06/facebook_can_be_good_for_kids.html

  2. That seems to be the general consensus, though I have only heard from a couple of people that we shouldn’t do it. Those two were very alarmed by the safety issues around the use. I’ll post a follow up this week on what we have learned, what we have decided to do, and what led to our decision. Thanks for weighing in, Teri.

  3. Teri Rousseau

    I just this summer decided to let my daughter have a Facebook account. We created her Facebook account together– making it a mother daughter project. As we signed up, we read over all the fine print and talked about what the various privacy rules meant, settings and went over some of the possible social challenges that occur on Facebook. Although I have my concerns about Facebook, it has been a wonderful new way to connect with my daughter and have new insights into her life. I think it is important that I continue to monitor her Facebook activity but my hope is it will be another positive way to share our lives.

  4. Andrea Wiseley

    I almost asked YOUR advice for the very same thing about MY son. LOL! But I made a decision on his 14th birthday to let him have an account. I told him that he could have this account under one condition… I must have the password for his safety. I told him when he’s older he can change the password. I also told him I would set it up so that random strangers could not look him up. Which means if he wants to facebook with a school friend he has to look THEM up to add them. So far, he hasn’t balked at any of the rules, he’s just really happy to have the account. I thought about the fact that his dad (my ex husband) would be on his friends list, so I selected an option to keep my posts from being viewed on his page. (And it kinda keeps my son from feeling like his momma is hawking over him) I agree that it’s a personal choice and you shouldn’t be pressured into letting him have an account if you guys think he’s not ready for it. There are still alot of kids that don’t have FB accounts, no matter what my son tells me. I know this because he’s got a phone number to text the kids that don’t have FB. LOL!

    • Yet another good tip. Don’t let his friends see our comments (assuming Kathy goes along with it). I’m guessing overall it has been positive, because you have not taken away the privilege. Thanks a bunch.

  5. Suze Harrison

    I like that you are using science and unity of parenting guide your decision. Those are two important concepts to employ in life!

    We let our son get one when he turned 13-he was in 7th grade. It actually aided his social life at school, which was good. He was able to forge deeper friendships with kids at school.

    We started with some guidelines that have loosened as he gets older. This is how we started:
    1) we have to have his password, etc. & we, his parents, are his FB friends 2) he only friends people he/we know/s 3) Facebook is a privilege, not a right and as such it is earned. Parents are in charge of when & how it is accessed. 3) we respect our son’s privacy, but his safety is paramount and we have to monitor his account periodically 4) No face pics (creepy people tried to friend him when he had a picture of himself on FB) 5) Privacy setting have to be high, especially initially. 6) Put his age as at least 40’s–the adverts are not racy, hormone-driven. 7) talk about FB frequently. It’s been a great way to learn to identify and manage a LOT of things teens struggle with–peer pressure, marketing/money (the worst we found is via ‘free’ games like Petville, etc), social negotiations–reasoning, verbalizing, feelings, etc–a lot of things don’t translate how you want them in this abbreviated, sometimes fast-moving medium. We also found it was a good way to slow down & think about how you wanted to respond & the repercussions, too. Also, you learn really quickly which friends have good parental support and who don’t. It helps usparents negotiate the boundaries to set for each friendship. And we have been surprised at the parents who don’t have good boundaries for their children–not who I would have expected, sadly.

    There have been some down sides to it, but overall we are glad he has it. As he matures, we have loosen restrictions. He has met some good friends via other friends on facebook. I think it’s good to manage it & set the rules now because (I never thought I’d say this, but my teen (and teens in general) can be pretty willful and sneaky. I actually wish we had started it a little earlier, before he got willful & sneaky ;o), although I don’t know maybe it’s bound to happen anyway as he matures & tries out new behaviors.

    Good luck! And bon voyage on your journey through tween/teendom!

    • First, thanks for the most practical information I have found yet. I appreciate you taking the time to write it. I’m encouraged that your over-all experience (good outweighs bad) is generally what I am led to expect. Your tips could come only through time and experience. I never thought to put his age at a bit older than mine. Maybe I’ll make him 50. I’m alarmed to hear that creeps would try to friend him and the problem would be extensive enough to disallow posting pics. That is part of the fun and it’s too bad that kids have to live with it. Also, I got your message loud and clear about establishing the rules early. This is great.

  6. Since I am not a parent, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to make decisions like these. You trust your kid enough that they won’t get trapped by the “bad” things on these sites, but you also have an instinct to keep them away from any and all potential negative influences. It’s a really personal decision and has to be made based on the whole child. Instead of just looking at the child’s age alone, like many regulatory sites and movies do, it’s better to leave it to the discretion of the parent who can then weigh the child’s maturity level, responsible nature and overall behavior to decide what is best suited. And that’s only something you and Kathy can decide together.

    • Good points. The tough part is that social media is so new. We don’t really have a frame of reference and cannot really predict what will happen or how he will respond. Thanks for weighing in on it.

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