Facebook Friends. With Children?
I realize that the ‘legal’ age for Facebook is 13. But I also realize that there are lots and lots of children on Facebook who are nowhere near 13. Most recently, I knew one crazy mama who created a Facebook page for her 4 year old. The poor kid cannot write a complete sentence yet, (or read for that matter) but has a Facebook account, complete with profile pictures and an about page. (And more FB friends than me to boot)
Even more troubling is the fact that since I have 4 kids – and am familiar with the younger generation’s habit of ‘collecting friends,’ I have received a whole bunch of friend requests from my daughter’s friends. Making matters worse is that we coach softball teams, and many of our players try to hook up with me on Facebook (which is actually kind of cool because it makes it easy to share team photos, and events in a snap.) Then, of course, there are the pint sized relatives who stay in touch with family via Facebook.
But on the other hand, is the adult world of Facebook truly suitable for children?
I have personally signed into Facebook before to post my political views, or add snarky, not necessarily kid friendly comments that adults would understand – but that children might not. And I have wondered about the implications of these posts.
And yet at the same time, with teenagers in my home who are legal FB users – accepting friend requests from their friends empowers me with insider knowledge about what is going on at school, and what kind of kids some of their ‘friends’ are. It’s like reading their diary without snooping – and this has proven more than once to be an invaluable resource for me as a mother.
For me, it’s a catch 22. I don’t want to hurt a child’s feelings by not accepting their FB request – but at the same time I don’t want children ‘in my business.’ One friend of mine has a blanket response she sends to ALL kids who friend request her which explains that she doesn’t accept friend requests from children because she feels FB is an adult place.
For me the solution has been this. Accept the request. And then go in and add the kids one by one to my list of people who cannot see my posts. Best part is, they don’t even know I have done it. (Until now at least)
Truth is, age controls are set up for a reason. And the bottom line is that parents have to be proactive in watching their children's habits online. Most kids well under the age of 13 can easily set up a Facebook account without their parents’ knowledge.
How do you handle friend requests from children? Are you opposed to your child being friends with adults?