- Family and Parenting
Facebook, MySpace: When should you allow your kids have their own account?
That is a great question many parents seek advice on probably starting around age 10 or so when their own children start begging for their own account. There is no perfect answer and certainly the only correct answer is never before 10 or 12. All other answers are filled with biases either from bad experiences, misinformation, predators online, ignorance of FB and parental over control and overly paranoia.
I gave in at age 12. Many of my daughters friends had theirs, I hesitated for a long time, but finally allowed her to have it, which I monitor frequently while she is present. I also made her "friend" me as her Dad, so whatever she posts, I get noticed. I also try to friend her friends so I can see what posts they post on her page. I make sure all settings are set to, Friends only, and not Friends of friends or everyone. Of course, we have talked about the dangers from nefarious strangers, posting nasty photos, talking bad talk etc. I have told her that if any thing like this occurs, FB ends. Period.
So far, it is just a fad thing, the "in" thing to have and the chat is just chat, much like texting, which of course can be nasty and there is no way to monitor that. If the FB account stays at Friends only, there is nothing bad externally that can happen. Some stranger could not make contact with her, as far as I know. Having settings at, Friends of Friends or Everyone, is when parents need to be worried.
Look, the more you deny FB to your child, the more they will want it and find a way to get it. It is available on the iPhone and others. Kids can easily get their own email address. If age 12 is too young, do you think 14 is much better? If, as a parent, you are really that paranoid, you can buy software to spy on every move your kid makes on the computer, trouble is, what about their phone? That is impossible and they can get FB there or simply text, which is just as viral and dangerous.
You have to trust your child to be responsible, know your expectations, consequences, and allow them to develop their own sense.
What are your thoughts?