Some parents give in to the ‘pestering’ when their child is 10, some don’t, others decide to set up an account before they are asked, to ‘teach’ their child and still others argue that Facebook should be restricted to 18+.
There is no doubt that using Facebook requires a level of maturity, some skill, some emotional intelligence, some resilience, and some knowledge of the world in all its ugliness.
Five implications of having a Facebook Account too early
1. Understanding the complex instructions of the Privacy Settings on Facebook is not easy even for an adult. Why not let, “friends of friends” see what’s written on your wall rather than just ‘friends’? Why not let them see all your photos, and where you go to school – they all know anyway, don’t they? And they’re friends of friends aren’t they? They must be okay. What about being safer and just letting ‘friends’ see into your life? What if those ‘friends’ show their brothers or their uncles what’s written on your child’s wall?
2. Understanding the concept of pedophilia is almost impossible and certainly not something I would like my child to know sooner than she need to. Is it something you would want them to understand as a 11 year old or 10 or 9…?
3. Coping with nasty comments or mean retorts is difficult even for adults. Imagine if a Facebook ‘friend’ of your 10 year old child wrote on their wall, ‘We think you’re fat’. What would your child do? What can your child do? Tell you? Tell their teacher? Maybe not, who wants to tell others that their friends think they are ‘fat’. Even if they do tell, the written statement has an authority, your child may have looked at it many times, and it quickly becomes stamped and engraved in their mind, surreptiously entering their self image possibly for the rest of their life.
4. How do you explain to your 9 year old that putting up photos of her slumber party on Facebook may not be appropriate? Is she ready to hear and/or understand that she may be viewed by others as a sexual being? What if she put up those photos without you knowing?
5. Your child has a 1o year old friend who has a 17 year old brother. They are all ‘friends’ on Facebook. Do you want your 10 year old to see the conversations the 17 year old boys are having? Do you want them to see the photos of the parties? Or perhaps your daughter’s cousin is 16. She’s family, why not have her as a ‘friend’? Perhaps it is the photos of her cousin smoking at a party that you’d prefer her not to see?
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