10-year-olds may want Facebook, but Facebook doesn't want them

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  March 4, 2011 06:00 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

What age should you let your child have a Facebook page? My daughter is 10 years old and wants one.

From: srqflfan, Bourne

Hi Srqflfan,

Does it help to know that Facebook has a minimum age requirement of 13?

Facebook does not want preteens. Here's what its policy statement, last revised 12/22/2010, says about age:

"If you are under age 13, please do not attempt to register for Facebook or provide any personal information about yourself to us. If we learn that we have collected personal information from a child under age 13, we will delete that information as quickly as possible."

If Facebook doesn't want your 10-year-old, surely you don't want your 10-year-old there. Tell her, "You're too young. Facebook has a rule that you have to be 13. We can talk about this again in a few years." At the very least, that will buy you some time.

But why doesn't Facebook want 10-, 11- or 12-year-olds? What's so magical about 13 (aside from being the Bar/Bat Mitzvah year!)?

Mostly, it's about brain development. Even then, 13 isn't magical. Facebook has arbitrarily chosen that age but most experts would agree agree that the older a child is when they start with Facebook, the safer they are from predators, cyberbullies, and on-line addiction in the same way that the older a teen is when he/she takes the first drink of alcohol, the safer they will be from susceptibility to addiction.

In "Ask the Mediatrician," Dr. Michael Rich of Children's Hospital Boston answers questions about media and children's health. I'm a big fan of his, so rather than re-invent the wheel, let me quote him about this:

"Scientific knowledge about brain development implies that Facebook's minimum user age of 13 is, if anything, a little low. A tween’s brain simply hasn’t developed enough yet to really understand and carry out the tenets of cybersafety because the pre-frontal cortex—the area in the brain crucial for impulse control, future thinking, and what Freud called “superego” or conscience—doesn’t fully develop until a person’s mid- to late 20s.

"Therefore, although many parents believe that their own children are smarter than the average bear and can handle cybersafety as early as middle school, neurodevelopment occurs in predictable patterns and time frames, and no 13 year old is there yet. Developing the skills necessary to be a responsible cybercitizen is not a matter of intelligence or experience—it’s a concrete fact of nature."

Whenever the time comes that your child is about to start Facebooking, you need to have conversations. Kids think it's their right to be on Facebook; let them know it is a privilege that they earn by demonstrating responsibility, primarily, that they can get their homework done in a timely fashion on their own, and that they can complete their chores and family responsibilities without constant nagging. And as with any computer use for preteens, set a limit on daily use, a number that you and your child arrive at together based on the realities of his or her life.

As with so many issues these days where parenting bumps up against the culture, there are three things to keep in mind. The first is that the best preventative medicine is being pro-active; talking about the issues, in this case media literacy, before the issue is a problem, goes a long way to children becoming part of the solution. The second is that sometimes, we really do have to just say no. I don't mean that you just shut down without discussion. What I mean is that, after airing pros and cons together, sometimes you just have to say, "I listened to your perspective, but I am the parent and it's my job to keep you safe, so the answer is no, but we can consider this again in x months." Or: "We can try it for a week/month and see how it goes." Set the parameters of what that means ahead of time in regard to grades, social life, sleep time, etc. In the meantime, do your homework and learn all you can about cyber safety and social networking.

By the way, I once interviewed Hemanshu Nigam, who time was then the chief security officer for MySpace, another social network site popular among school-age kids. At the time, the company had a minimum age requirement of 14 and he had an 11-year-old. Here's what he said he told his son: "'Right now, MySpace is not right for you.' I trust that if his friends have it, he’ll tell me. I’ll talk to their parents myself.’’

I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

63 comments so far...
  1. Very good explanation. I have a FB friend whose young daughter was just allowed to get a page. For the past year or so she's been on her Mom's page here and there and at least one of her friends has been on her mom's page (the moms are FB friends), so they have been able to have short little discussions and post pictures of events they've been involved in...like Halloween costumes...for about a year and a half. She got her own page when she turned 13 not because she could legally, but because she has earned it as a privilege. Her mom is one of her FB friends and I'm sure that the whole activity is completely supervised by her parents.

    My take is that you'll need your own FB page, too, so you can be party to everything while she's still so young and so you can stay on top of changes in the security settings and so on.

    Posted by Favorite Auntie March 4, 11 07:59 AM
  1. I am a cubscout leader of boys between 9-10. Half of these boys are on FB! My son is not and will not be for several more years. Some of the boys have sent me friend requests. I politely declined them, I don't think that is an appropriate connection!!!

    Posted by Den Leader March 4, 11 08:08 AM
  1. Actually, what is "magical" about age 13 has nothing to do with brain development or arbitrariness on behalf of Facebook. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits the collection of personal data from children under 13 by website operators in the U.S. Facebook is just complying with the law - no more, no less.

    Posted by Holly March 4, 11 08:19 AM
  1. I think 13 is too young. I know many people who have their 8-12 year old children on Facebook. What I think makes it extra ridiculous is that some of these clueless parents say very inappropriate things on their own pages that their child and child's friends will see. Even if Facebook didn't have a minimum age requirement, I'd think parents would say no, but with the minimum age of 13 you shouldn't even think twice. More often than not, kids are able to do so and see so many things that are too mature for them; it so annoys me that this is one thing that they are actually restricted from doing and parents help them get around it!

    Posted by mom2boys March 4, 11 09:41 AM
  1. You say NO NO NO NO NO.

    NO.

    Ask yourself, would your parents have even given a request like this as much thought as you have?

    Posted by Q March 4, 11 09:43 AM
  1. I succumbed and allowed 11 yo 6th grade daughter to get FB but insisted that she accept me as friend. I am able to monitor most of what she and her friends post. I will pull the plug immediately if I see the slightest hint of bullying or other inappropriate behavior. I also set the privacy settings myself and made sure that her info, posts, personal, etc., were only viewable by her "friends". For the record, it appears that nearly all of my daughter's 6th grade classmates have FB accounts. Everyone of them had to have to put in a fake birth year.

    Posted by Antonia March 4, 11 09:48 AM
  1. Comment #3 is right on. This is simply Federal Law.

    Posted by NE Father March 4, 11 09:58 AM
  1. I have a grandnephew who is 10 and has his own page. However, when the page was set up, he didn't have access to it. My niece would post things as if he were adding. He recently was allowed to use it but it's monitored by my sister & niece.

    Children grow up too fast and facebook can be a dangerous social media for adults, let alone a 10 year old. I would just say no, she's not old enough. When she turns 13, revisit the request.

    Posted by JoAnne March 4, 11 10:06 AM
  1. I personally think fb should change the age to 15 or 16. There's really no need for 13-year-olds to be posting their photos onto the internet.

    Posted by GN March 4, 11 10:12 AM
  1. @#3 - Very interesting, I had noo idea!

    @#6 - I hope you go back and check those settings frequently. Kids know how to change those thing and you may not be seeing everything, perhaps just what your daughter wants you to see. Also, isn't there some saying about 'if all your friends were jumping off a bridge would you?'

    @#8 - It seems silly that someone would have a page but no access. Why bother setting it up in the first place?

    Posted by Den Leader March 4, 11 10:28 AM
  1. What ever age you decide for your own child, make sure to "Friend" your child and make keeping you a condition of keeping the account. Then make sure all privacy settings are set to friends only and suprise check the settings now and then, finally maintain a no-closed-doors policy regarding the computer use and friends in the room. Kids can and will set up a new account that you don't know about but by keeping an eye on what they're doing it makes it harder for them to keep it a secret. Be vigilant and interactive.

    Posted by Inf March 4, 11 10:37 AM
  1. I really don't think the problem here is facebook or any of the scientific information about the pre-frontal cortex (which, to be honest, I think is a little bit overkill for a conversation about facebook). The problem would be a parent who didn't monitor their child on facebook. If you don't want to expend the time to monitor your child's online activities, they shouldn't be on the Internet at all. My niece got a facebook page at 13. She is friends with only family and age appropriate friends, including her mother and father. My sister (her mother) has her password so she can go on at any time to really peruse her page. Cyber safety was explained to her using real examples of how dangerous strangers can be and how they lie sometimes to get what they want. And bullying was discussed. Any hint of danger or bullying and the plug would be pulled. My niece is 16 now and facebook has done her no harm. Having said all that, 10 is young and I think so mostly because they don't have the social skills to use facebook appropriately or to recognize when things are perhaps dangerous or too mature for them.

    Posted by Linney17 March 4, 11 10:42 AM
  1. A lot of good facebook's "rules" are when there's no way to confirm the age of an applicant. I know plenty of kids whose age is listed as 78 or something similar - when clearly from their postings they are younger than 13. Like so many times in our society, the "rules" are stated, but no one follows them because no one enforces them - if they are even enforceable at all. Interesting to know about the federal law regarding it being illegal to gather information about anyone under the age of 13. So it has nothing to do with fb's moral conviction or concern for children. It is unpoliceable anyway.

    Posted by rulesarejustwords March 4, 11 10:47 AM
  1. I wouldn't let my daughter get a FB account until she was 16. Period. End of story. There was no discussion. She didn't get a cell phone until she was 16 either. Again, there was no discussion. I told her my reasons: "You aren't old enough". She already knew that the "but all my friends have FB" and "you don't want me to be uncool" arguments wouldn't work with me. And she couldn't sneak and have a FB account because she didn't have internet access in her room (and wouldn't, until she was 18). She could use the internet anytime she wanted, however, from where we had the computer..right in the middle of the living room where I could see everything she was doing.
    Growing up and maturing is a rite of passage. When you skip that rite of passage and treat a 10 year old like they're a grown up (and giving them FB accounts and cell phones does exactly that) you are pushing them to act just like adults. Then they hit 13 and want to act like they're 18 or 21 and you try to dial it back ("but you're just a child yourself"! How do they know that? You've been treating them like an adult this whole time) they rebel.
    The coolest thing about growing up is getting to do things you never got to do when you were little. Stay up late. Get the "large" soda at the drive-thru. Watch the "grown-up" shows. Going over to your friend's house without mom. Being allowed to go to a different store in the mall without mom. Getting a FB account. Getting a cell phone because you can drive now. Not having Mom drive you around anymore.
    The mentality of "well, all the other kids have one and I don't want my kid to seem uncool or become unpopular" is a dangerous one to have.
    The level of trust between my daughter and myself? When she was 16 and got her FB account, the first thing she did was give me her user name and password. I didn't even make that a requirement. Her reasons? "You need to keep me safe online, Mom...and you have more experience with things like that. And if I sneak around behind your back, you can't keep me safe." I've never once logged on to her account to sneak a look. She's never given me a reason.

    Posted by yoshimi25 March 4, 11 10:58 AM
  1. I allowed my daughter to get an account the last week of school in 8th grade. (She was 14.5 at the time.) She and her friends were all going different directions and it was a way for them to keep their connections. It also allowed the novelty to wear off a bit before high school and the extra work it required.

    Posted by SkiMom March 4, 11 11:13 AM
  1. #6, Antonia: I'm sorry--I think it's so sad and disheartening that you "succumbed" (implying that you were not comfortable with it but gave in because all her friends were doing it) And not only that, parents are actually encouraging their children to lie to get around the age rules that are clearly in place for a reason. Who are the parents here? Why can't we, as parents, band together and decide to let our kids be kids for as long as possible. Why can't we teach them that sometimes you can't do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it. There are things you can do as an older teenager that are just not appropriate for a 6th grader. End of story. I am the mother of an 8-year-old girl, and this terrifies me.

    Posted by KB March 4, 11 11:53 AM
  1. I think it's a bit hypocritical for parents to pass judgment as to when it's 'okay' for a child to use Facebook when so many of them don't REALLY understand what Facebook is. To so many of them, it's just another toy, a waste of time like video games and cheap TV shows. But the fact is that Facebook is the next generation of social networking, and in order to keep pace socially and in terms of their technical skills, children need to be as proficient and possible, as soon as possible.

    Imagine what would happen if you told your children they were too young to talk on the phone? It would socially retard them. Limiting their access to Facebook, and whatever comes next is going to do the same thing.

    Instead we need to educate them. Facebook isn't a toy, or a privilege, it's a tool. But in order for a parent to education their children, then need to educate themselves first.

    Posted by ChristopherM March 4, 11 11:58 AM
  1. No FB for me. NO for my son. End of story.

    Posted by jjr1968 March 4, 11 12:08 PM
  1. Why would you want to encourage/allow your child to LIE to get a Facebook account? And how do you distinguish between this type of lie and other, more serious ones? "You can lie to Facebook and to the IRS like Daddy, but not to the police." Come on, people! They'll be 13 before you know it. Use this to teach them the patience of waiting for what they want, as well as respect for the law.

    Posted by NoNonsenseMom March 4, 11 12:29 PM
  1. Yes, kids need to become technically savvy, but there are other avenues besides Facebook to do it on. There are plenty of kid-oriented sites, like Club Penguin and Lego Universe, where kids can meet up with their friends without divulging personal information about themselves to the wider world.

    Kids eventually need to learn how to have sex, too, but that doesn't mean that we should encourage 10-year-olds to play doctor. The notion that our tech-savvy kids could somehow not be able to figure out FB or cell phones when they are 16 if they're not introduced to them at age 10 is just silly. If us "elderly" parents can figure it out fairly quickly, certainly our quick-witted children can do so, too.

    I'm having the same kinds of discussions with my 11-year-old. All his friends have cell phones, and we've told him no. The peer pressure is hard -- hard on us, when the other parents are all jumping on the bandwagon ;-) -- but I remind myself that I survived well into adulthood without a cellphone, so I know my kid can wait till high school.

    Posted by SandyEE March 4, 11 12:39 PM
  1. Sorry...I'm NOT a facebook fan. Despit many invites to join, I want no part of it. Its like a gigantic chatroom and as of late is getting people into trouble and causing others to lose jobs. I'm now hearing that some employers are looking at the profile of potential new hires and if they don't like what they see....no job.
    Its such a waste of time and energy. Wouldn't these kids be better off outside playing and engaging in real conversations with real people to establish some later in life social skills?? We have become too much of a "techy society" and need to start moving away from that and get back in touch with each other.....IN PERSON !!!!

    Posted by Liz March 4, 11 12:40 PM
  1. I actually knew about the federal rule about internet sites collecting data on childeren under 13, so when my 9 year old wanted a facebook account, I let her type in her information including her real DOB and it rejected her. This way *I* wasn't the bad Mummy saying no it was Facebook! This why some sites designed for kids ask for a parent's e-mail.

    Posted by Red March 4, 11 12:49 PM
  1. Christopher, I have a Facebook and Twitter account and yes I do REALLY understand the role these tools play in our world. Really I do--it's actually not rocket science. Computer social networking is a part of our world now--I get it. I just don't think it takes years of training to learn to use and understand Facebook--it's part of our kids' world and when they reach the age at which this and other social networking tools are actually useful and necessary, they will be able to use them. If my 75-year-old mother-in-law who didn't have a computer until 10 years ago can become proficient at Facebook, I'm really not worried about my 5 year old and 8 year old, who will have grown up with technology. I just feel entering the world of Facebook can wait until 14 or 15. (or course, provided they are responsible and have their priorities in order). Kids do a lot of maturing in the middle school years.

    Posted by KB March 4, 11 01:03 PM
  1. As a middle school teacher, I can tell you one thing: the kids who don't have Facebook are at a true ADVANTAGE. They are not caught up in the drama/bullying/stalking morning, noon, and night. Their social "status" and social life is not all they think about and they are not consumed with "who said what" and who was "just making a joke" when they hurt someone's feelings. I am a young teacher...I have Facebook for my own personal use. I am telling parents now: If you are not seeing your kid's Facebook from logging in under their own names, you are not seeing their Facebook. They are more savy then you think. Ask any teacher, administrator, guidance counselor or student.....Facebook has easily bcome the ROOT of any and all issues that come up in school. Middle School kids have enough to worry about( trying to find themselves an identity and where to fit in at this age). The last thing they need is an online social site guiding them in doing this.
    As for the last comment: "it would socially retard them"....give me a break. Not fighting might "socially retard" them, do you tell them to fight? Not drinking/smoking/doing drugs might "socially retard" them...do you have them do those things? Parent's that put their kids on Facebook at an early age are pretty much tossing them into the "mean girls", "bullying", "he-said, she-said", "did you see what they posted?" world that is taking over these kids lives. And last time I checked, that world did not get any kid a better MCAS score, a job, or a college interview. In fact, now their facebook accounts are being used against them in such instances. I wouldn't do that to my kid, that's for damn sure.


    Posted by teach March 4, 11 01:20 PM
  1. Kudos to comment #3 for pointing out that Facebook's 13+ policy was probably not "arbitrarily chosen", and is likely following the COPPA law. Disappointing that the author apparently didn't research this a bit more beforehand. Makes me think twice about considering her advice.

    Posted by MikeUMA March 4, 11 01:26 PM
  1. I am a high school teacher. When parents teach children that the rules do not apply to them (FB's age requirement is 13, but ignore that, sweetie) and teach them how to lie to break the rules (just put in 1995 for your birthday, honey), you are teaching them to have zero respect for authority. It wreaks havoc in the classroom. Students cheat and lie and break rules because they simply do not believe rules must be followed. Literally, they look bewildered and ask, "What's the big deal?"

    Do your children a favor and parent them when they are little. What do you think will happen when they are 16 and believe they don't have to obey YOU? Or laws?

    Posted by High School Teacher March 4, 11 01:28 PM
  1. I think it's a bit hypocritical for parents to pass judgment as to when it's 'okay' for a child to use Facebook when so many of them don't REALLY understand what Facebook is. To so many of them, it's just another toy, a waste of time like video games and cheap TV shows
    --------------------------------
    So you've polled us all and know what we think? I must have missed your phone call. Look, I'm a parent and use FB. I use it because I have friends all across the country from highschool and college days, and we can keep it in touch through FB. It is a great tool for me. I think perhaps you have an unrealistic notion of the age of all of us parents and the demographics we might fit into.

    Also: you say "in order to keep pace socially and in terms of their technical skills, children need to be as proficient and possible, as soon as possible."

    That shouldn't mean "as soon as they are functionally capable of using a keyboard." It should mean "as soon as they are capable of exercising the judgment required to use online tools." Of *course* parents need to educate and guide their kids through the use of technological tools -- but there is something naive in thinking that a child's own judgment won't come into play. What use is a tool if the child doesn't have the neorological capability to understand it and use it safely?
    For pete's sake they need to be proficient with computers too -- do you argue that they should be sitting in front of a computer screen when they are 3 or 4, because they are likely physically capable of using it then? Find me doctors and researchers who think staring at and using computers, in any form, *helps* young brain development and we'll talk. Right now, medical wisdom is that it is NOT helpful, and can be harmful.

    Using tools is great -- but not if the child doesn't have the critical thinking and analytical ability first. Too many people confuse computer literacy with *thinking* skills. The two are not the same. Reliance on the former stunts growth of the latter. My oldest child, at 16, is proficient at all manner of computer tools. (The social networking of FB, and also the more research and technology driven tools laptops and computers possess). He did not have access to a computer until he was 14 (he used mine for school projects, but that was it). He did not get the ability to be on FB until he was 15. It has not hindered his technological, or his social, learning at all.

    Posted by jjlen March 4, 11 01:43 PM
  1. comment regarding Club Penguin. My niece is a sophomore in college and she told me about a common "game" played during "boring" classes. Everyone creates a Club Penguin account and then race to see who gets banned first.

    Posted by TheBeerbarian March 4, 11 01:46 PM
  1. Thank you to the teachers who posted (#24 and #26) and provided a reality check . . .

    Posted by KB March 4, 11 02:04 PM
  1. Oh, and you know what you get if you don't succumb to the "the tools is out there so kids have to learn it now now now" mentality?

    Kids who can carry on a conversation. Who have interests outside the flashing screen. Who are active. Who can think critically. Who are curious about the world. Who may even... gasp.... read.

    On top of that, when they are older, you add access to and help with technology, and you have smart, savvy, interesting young adults.

    Posted by jjlen March 4, 11 02:14 PM
  1. well said, yoshimi25 - and the teachers who can document the classroom effects!

    Posted by Q March 4, 11 02:22 PM
  1. Club Penguin is tightly moderated, so those sophomoric sophomores would get bumped off pretty quickly. It is dead easy to get kicked off of Club Penguin -- if a kid mentions ANY personal information about him- or herself, they get suspended (and their parents get email). If a member asks personal questions of other members, they get suspended. The bar on that site is set pretty low, so it really doesn't take much to get kicked off.

    I won't say what I think about people who mess around in young children's playgrounds, except that perhaps those folks should find a more challenging hobby.

    Posted by SandyEE March 4, 11 02:31 PM
  1. I agree that kids should not be allowed on facebook until they are 13 or in high school. However, not allowing them to have one once in high school is incovenient for many reasons. Lets face it. The world is run on facebook. Clubs, sports teams, and groups use facebook to keep communitaction and activities going. In high school, many kids need a facebook to stay in the loop of extracurriculars.

    Posted by Rose March 4, 11 03:11 PM
  1. 10yrs. old too young for facebook and any other site,because internet so danger for adult,ten yrs old need to be reading story book.

    Posted by charlotte cooper March 4, 11 03:17 PM
  1. The parents who advocate "monitoring" their children by having their child "friend" them on facebook.... a lot of the facebook bullying takes place on "facebook chat", which parents who friend their children cannot see. My 13 year old sister has facebook, and I know that a lot of bad things go on over chat that aren't posted publicly.

    If you are going to let your child get a facebook account, it's not enough to friend them; you should know their passwords, and demand equal access to their account. If they're doing the right thing, there shouldn't be anything to hide.

    Posted by Jessica March 4, 11 03:51 PM
  1. No FB until high school. I have taught both middle school and high school and I can tell you without a doubt that the younger kids are not ready to handle interaction on a social networking site. Also, keep the computer in the family room, where you can see it - NOT in the kids' bedroom.

    Posted by erin March 4, 11 05:24 PM
  1. FB is a complete waste of time. give your kids a book or a newspaper to read or encourage them to take music lessons and develop an interest or skill.

    Posted by bobo March 4, 11 05:45 PM
  1. Agree with Holly and MikeUMA. Facebook is simply engaging in a straightforward application of COPPA; it is (rightly) nearly impossible for online sites to legally gather information on children below age 13. Only a very few educational and other sites even attempt to comply with it, all others simply refuse to engage in the complex COPPA-compliant registrations, which was probably the goal of the law to start with. It has absolutely nothing to do with brain development or anything else. No need to overanalyze the age restriction. Not to be presumptuous, but this one probably warrants a correction and/or update so that your readers are aware of this law.

    Posted by Aaron March 4, 11 07:57 PM
  1. I don't have kids,but if I did I doubt I'd even have a computer in my house. I've seen some of the stuff that goes on in cyberspace. Why subject impressionable,sensitive youngsters to that? Parents who act like the TV or the computer is supposed to be a substitute babysitter make me sick. "It keeps him/her quiet. It's something he/she likes to do," Feh. While your kid's being all quiet,you don't know who is on the other side being quiet with them.

    Posted by Jason March 5, 11 01:15 AM
  1. Just change the year of birth, and problem solved if you're okay with your child having an FB page. If not, then tell them no, but don't be surprised when a 5th grader is smart enough to figure out the date changing on their own. 10 is about the right age to start allowing freedoms like FB.

    It's far better to give permission and use the opportunity to talk about safe online behavior than to have them make mistakes on their own. It's naive to think that not having a computer is an option---all the jobs when they grow up that don't involve asking if they want fries with that will require computer skills (and so does working for McDonalds, fwiw). Third graders at our school were doing power point, and by 5th they're expected to know how to do internet based research. Social networking isn't going to go away...and if you don't use the technology, they'll still use it and you won't have any understanding of it.

    BTW...it's adorable that you think by friending them you can see what they're doing. There all kinds of way to segregate your friends so that some people see some of what you post and others don't...and there's no way for you to know.

    Posted by C March 5, 11 08:21 AM
  1. Facebook didn't arbitrarily choose 13, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 requires websites to prohibit children under the age of 13 from providing information.

    Posted by lordwow March 5, 11 08:45 AM
  1. I sincerely hope Facebook is not such a big deal when my toddler gets to junior high/high school. I'm sure it will be, but I can hope, right?
    If you do allow your child to get an account (at 13), I believe they should give you their login information. However, what control do you have if they open a second account through which they do whatever they like?

    Facebook is great for adults to keep in contact, but its a cesspool of uselessness and wastefulness for young kids. They see each other every day. What do they need facebook for?

    Posted by lala March 5, 11 10:01 AM
  1. What's the rush????

    Posted by Robin March 5, 11 10:03 AM
  1. The worst part is not just kids being on Facebook- it's when their teachers are friends with them on Facebook!! I am a middle/high school teacher and I see so many colleagues posting personal photos and wall posts that all of their students can see (because they have "friended" them). So weird!!

    Posted by liza1 March 5, 11 04:55 PM
  1. I'm 12 and I have a facebook. I don't care what they say, really I don't.
    I think parents should backoff. We know about cyberbullying. So leave us alone.. We can make decisions for ourselves. We are humans too.

    Posted by Lilly March 6, 11 12:00 AM
  1. Im 14 and I dont have a facebook. The reason is my brother that says me not to open it ! What can I do ?? I'm older then 13 :)

    Posted by arlsa96 March 6, 11 02:34 AM
  1. My daughter-in-law has gotten my grandsons a facebook page of their own. One is 3 years old and one is 2. She has their right names and month and day they were born, but has the wrong birth year. You can tell by their pictures on their page that they are just little boys. She is using their page to use very bad language and to talk about people in a very bad way.When you read the posts it looks like they are saying these things instead of her. I was wondering if there is a way to put a stop to this.

    Posted by caring grandmother March 7, 11 07:56 AM
  1. Lord help us all when we think about the next generations leading our future...OH the world is in trouble! they are incapable of making grown up decisions at such a young age. aAnd they live by the phones or FB or twitter or whatever other technology has to offer. It really is a pathetic world when this is what it has become. Revolved around Facebook and texting! Sad times.

    Posted by jd March 7, 11 01:30 PM
  1. In it's current configuration, it's too risky for kids, the same way talking to strangers is too risky.

    There are sites for kids that have a social element, like Webkinz.

    Nevertheless, I would bet a gold sovereign that Facebook will evolve to tap this market.

    Posted by Dan Cleo March 7, 11 09:55 PM
  1. facebook is a tool by social engineering profiteers to 'mine' (as in dig up/extract/expose) the participants of their behaviors, attitudes, activities and thence use that information for gain.

    it is a portal for law enforcement and 'those that can pay for it' to gain unspecified private information. it is no more 'secure' than having a conversation/meeting in a public plaza.

    each individual is imprisoned by their learned dependency on the limited social interactions 'graciously provided' by this. it preys upon the very lack of self control, impulsiveness, and naivete of the participants.

    Posted by pete k March 9, 11 01:31 AM
  1. Gosh - I didn't realize that bullying and pedophiles only evolved since FB was founded!! Kids talk and bully and share information in more ways than just on FB. They write nasty notes or talk and whisper to each other. Some get caught up in the social games and some don't. Pedophiles have always unfortunately used many tools to get to kids. Cyberbullying and cyber stalking are a relatively new and scary medium of an old problem and avoiding FB is not going to address this. As with all things in life - everything in moderation. My kids have access to FB, but also play sports, have friends over to play and yes - we even read books - together and independently. FB is not some sort after privilege in our house - it's just another piece of technology that we use to stay in touch - like a phone call or skype to our overseas family and friends. Responsible parenting and educating children is the only tool we have in this tech savy new world. Keep your computers in your public living space so you can keep an eye on them - teach your children about safety and appropriate behavior and above all - supervise and BALANCE. Unless your kids go to a school where cellphones and computers are generically banned - your child is going to be exposed to these things - like it or not. Just like the child who is not allowed sweets gets obsessed with them - so maybe the child who is not allowed technology

    Posted by EmEs March 9, 11 05:38 AM
  1. Lilly: At 12, with a Facebook, you've automatically rendered Facebook in violation of Federal Law. So, regardless of what you think about parents' opinions, you're still wrong.

    Posted by Phe March 17, 11 03:05 PM
  1. for all of you who keep saying, "Keep the computer in the public space," do you not realize that virtually every cell phone has internet access??

    Posted by Patty March 18, 11 08:50 PM
  1. My 11yr started her own page. When I found out I took it down because she was not being appropriate (posted that she was single, interested in men). The next day she started another page with an alias. I did not find out about this until 1 year later! Turns out many of my friends and family are friends with her. When i asked them about this their response was that she asked them not to tell me and they didn't want to start any drama cause they were monitoring her page for me! I am mortified by how careless people can be on social networks, adults can't even handle it!

    Posted by Robie-lyn April 19, 11 09:38 AM
  1. This is stupid kids are not that dumb if just tell them to make friends with anybody you don't know! Also you can hide all your personal stuff.

    Posted by Michelle May 11, 11 06:39 PM
  1. You do realize that they can hide all kinds of information from you even if you "friend" your kids, right?

    And that they can go to a library and just create a different account under a different name/bdate, right?

    You can't actually "monitor" your child's FB usage, but it's adorable how many of you think you can.

    Posted by C May 22, 11 01:48 AM
  1. I'm 12. I had one since fourth grade. I don't add people I have never met face to face, and know about online safety. I do not agree that 13 is when you first become mentally mature enough, because I am just as mature (even more mature) then my 13 year old friends. My 15 year old sister treats me like she treats her friends, and she started school early so all her friends are older. I really think people need to stop acting like 12 year olds are as immature as they used to be. I also think they need to stop stereotyping us as well.

    Posted by S October 27, 11 05:23 PM
  1. Great to read all the comments here and how other parents have grappled with this issue. Opening up my FB tonight I noticed that my son showed up on People That I Might know. I was shocked to say the least as my 11 yo didnt seek my wife or my permission to join. We've just had a long talk with our son and told him that he shouldve asked permission to set up the FB account. Consequently we advised him to close the account.

    Posted by Eric December 21, 11 07:06 AM
  1. Did you know that kids do actually have a brain? If you don't let them, they will find a way to get on it anyway.

    Posted by Dfgggbg January 9, 12 05:02 PM
  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed this "chat" and am glad to see I'm not alone in keeping my 11 year old (and oldest) pretty limited in terms of Internet access. I came across this blog because I just received an email saying my son, who just set up his first email address, has opened a twitter account. He's about to wake up and I need to figure this out quickly. I don't twitter and know nothing about it. Any thoughts?

    Posted by Edm January 12, 12 06:03 AM
  1. Please tell me what contract a minor can enter in to? How could you people arbitrarily throw away your childs right to privacy? I, as a parent am responsible for my child by every legal definition, but yet, they can throw away that which I have so rigorously protected without my consent or authorization I profess is illegal. These so called contracts are VOIDABLE and guess who gets to VOID them....their LEGAL GUARDIANS. FB should be sued.

    Posted by Daria Kemp May 23, 12 02:11 AM
  1. My 8-year old grandson just created his own Face Book page, after we already told him he couldn't have one. We were upset, of course, but at the same time we were amazed that he was able to actually sit down and create this thing, albeit changing his birth year from 2005 to 1998. He entered his favorite book, places he's gone to with friends and family. A friend suggested we take him to the library to keep his mind focused - sorry, been there, done that - he's been going to the library since he was 3-years old. Whatever gadget is placed in front of him, he masters. What do we do? Are there tech classes for 8-year olds? How do we keep him focused and on the straight and narrow without him getting bored by limiting what he can/can't do regarding all this technology that he's so eager to be a part of? We're from The Bronx, New York and I'm searching for ways in which he can "express himself". My grandson's words, not mine. You see what we're dealing with here? :)

    Posted by Denise Bassett August 12, 13 12:44 PM
  1. I let my 4 year old use Facebook. However I told her I have the right to check she isn't posting inappropriate info or adding strangers. Every afternoon after school for 1 hour she goes on it. I don't punish Amelia for breaking rules. Instead I explain to her till she gets it. My partner agrees with me. I also teach her about technology in a way she understands.

    And of course I refuse to let her use it during homework hour or meals. My opinion is that if kids are emotionally capable, let them use it. She has her own first cheap iPad I got her 4 weeks ago. She doesn't have unrestricted use she's too little. My baby girl Felicity doesn't have one.

    Posted by Tara December 14, 13 02:52 PM
 
63 comments so far...
  1. Very good explanation. I have a FB friend whose young daughter was just allowed to get a page. For the past year or so she's been on her Mom's page here and there and at least one of her friends has been on her mom's page (the moms are FB friends), so they have been able to have short little discussions and post pictures of events they've been involved in...like Halloween costumes...for about a year and a half. She got her own page when she turned 13 not because she could legally, but because she has earned it as a privilege. Her mom is one of her FB friends and I'm sure that the whole activity is completely supervised by her parents.

    My take is that you'll need your own FB page, too, so you can be party to everything while she's still so young and so you can stay on top of changes in the security settings and so on.

    Posted by Favorite Auntie March 4, 11 07:59 AM
  1. I am a cubscout leader of boys between 9-10. Half of these boys are on FB! My son is not and will not be for several more years. Some of the boys have sent me friend requests. I politely declined them, I don't think that is an appropriate connection!!!

    Posted by Den Leader March 4, 11 08:08 AM
  1. Actually, what is "magical" about age 13 has nothing to do with brain development or arbitrariness on behalf of Facebook. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits the collection of personal data from children under 13 by website operators in the U.S. Facebook is just complying with the law - no more, no less.

    Posted by Holly March 4, 11 08:19 AM
  1. I think 13 is too young. I know many people who have their 8-12 year old children on Facebook. What I think makes it extra ridiculous is that some of these clueless parents say very inappropriate things on their own pages that their child and child's friends will see. Even if Facebook didn't have a minimum age requirement, I'd think parents would say no, but with the minimum age of 13 you shouldn't even think twice. More often than not, kids are able to do so and see so many things that are too mature for them; it so annoys me that this is one thing that they are actually restricted from doing and parents help them get around it!

    Posted by mom2boys March 4, 11 09:41 AM
  1. You say NO NO NO NO NO.

    NO.

    Ask yourself, would your parents have even given a request like this as much thought as you have?

    Posted by Q March 4, 11 09:43 AM
  1. I succumbed and allowed 11 yo 6th grade daughter to get FB but insisted that she accept me as friend. I am able to monitor most of what she and her friends post. I will pull the plug immediately if I see the slightest hint of bullying or other inappropriate behavior. I also set the privacy settings myself and made sure that her info, posts, personal, etc., were only viewable by her "friends". For the record, it appears that nearly all of my daughter's 6th grade classmates have FB accounts. Everyone of them had to have to put in a fake birth year.

    Posted by Antonia March 4, 11 09:48 AM
  1. Comment #3 is right on. This is simply Federal Law.

    Posted by NE Father March 4, 11 09:58 AM
  1. I have a grandnephew who is 10 and has his own page. However, when the page was set up, he didn't have access to it. My niece would post things as if he were adding. He recently was allowed to use it but it's monitored by my sister & niece.

    Children grow up too fast and facebook can be a dangerous social media for adults, let alone a 10 year old. I would just say no, she's not old enough. When she turns 13, revisit the request.

    Posted by JoAnne March 4, 11 10:06 AM
  1. I personally think fb should change the age to 15 or 16. There's really no need for 13-year-olds to be posting their photos onto the internet.

    Posted by GN March 4, 11 10:12 AM
  1. @#3 - Very interesting, I had noo idea!

    @#6 - I hope you go back and check those settings frequently. Kids know how to change those thing and you may not be seeing everything, perhaps just what your daughter wants you to see. Also, isn't there some saying about 'if all your friends were jumping off a bridge would you?'

    @#8 - It seems silly that someone would have a page but no access. Why bother setting it up in the first place?

    Posted by Den Leader March 4, 11 10:28 AM
  1. What ever age you decide for your own child, make sure to "Friend" your child and make keeping you a condition of keeping the account. Then make sure all privacy settings are set to friends only and suprise check the settings now and then, finally maintain a no-closed-doors policy regarding the computer use and friends in the room. Kids can and will set up a new account that you don't know about but by keeping an eye on what they're doing it makes it harder for them to keep it a secret. Be vigilant and interactive.

    Posted by Inf March 4, 11 10:37 AM
  1. I really don't think the problem here is facebook or any of the scientific information about the pre-frontal cortex (which, to be honest, I think is a little bit overkill for a conversation about facebook). The problem would be a parent who didn't monitor their child on facebook. If you don't want to expend the time to monitor your child's online activities, they shouldn't be on the Internet at all. My niece got a facebook page at 13. She is friends with only family and age appropriate friends, including her mother and father. My sister (her mother) has her password so she can go on at any time to really peruse her page. Cyber safety was explained to her using real examples of how dangerous strangers can be and how they lie sometimes to get what they want. And bullying was discussed. Any hint of danger or bullying and the plug would be pulled. My niece is 16 now and facebook has done her no harm. Having said all that, 10 is young and I think so mostly because they don't have the social skills to use facebook appropriately or to recognize when things are perhaps dangerous or too mature for them.

    Posted by Linney17 March 4, 11 10:42 AM
  1. A lot of good facebook's "rules" are when there's no way to confirm the age of an applicant. I know plenty of kids whose age is listed as 78 or something similar - when clearly from their postings they are younger than 13. Like so many times in our society, the "rules" are stated, but no one follows them because no one enforces them - if they are even enforceable at all. Interesting to know about the federal law regarding it being illegal to gather information about anyone under the age of 13. So it has nothing to do with fb's moral conviction or concern for children. It is unpoliceable anyway.

    Posted by rulesarejustwords March 4, 11 10:47 AM
  1. I wouldn't let my daughter get a FB account until she was 16. Period. End of story. There was no discussion. She didn't get a cell phone until she was 16 either. Again, there was no discussion. I told her my reasons: "You aren't old enough". She already knew that the "but all my friends have FB" and "you don't want me to be uncool" arguments wouldn't work with me. And she couldn't sneak and have a FB account because she didn't have internet access in her room (and wouldn't, until she was 18). She could use the internet anytime she wanted, however, from where we had the computer..right in the middle of the living room where I could see everything she was doing.
    Growing up and maturing is a rite of passage. When you skip that rite of passage and treat a 10 year old like they're a grown up (and giving them FB accounts and cell phones does exactly that) you are pushing them to act just like adults. Then they hit 13 and want to act like they're 18 or 21 and you try to dial it back ("but you're just a child yourself"! How do they know that? You've been treating them like an adult this whole time) they rebel.
    The coolest thing about growing up is getting to do things you never got to do when you were little. Stay up late. Get the "large" soda at the drive-thru. Watch the "grown-up" shows. Going over to your friend's house without mom. Being allowed to go to a different store in the mall without mom. Getting a FB account. Getting a cell phone because you can drive now. Not having Mom drive you around anymore.
    The mentality of "well, all the other kids have one and I don't want my kid to seem uncool or become unpopular" is a dangerous one to have.
    The level of trust between my daughter and myself? When she was 16 and got her FB account, the first thing she did was give me her user name and password. I didn't even make that a requirement. Her reasons? "You need to keep me safe online, Mom...and you have more experience with things like that. And if I sneak around behind your back, you can't keep me safe." I've never once logged on to her account to sneak a look. She's never given me a reason.

    Posted by yoshimi25 March 4, 11 10:58 AM
  1. I allowed my daughter to get an account the last week of school in 8th grade. (She was 14.5 at the time.) She and her friends were all going different directions and it was a way for them to keep their connections. It also allowed the novelty to wear off a bit before high school and the extra work it required.

    Posted by SkiMom March 4, 11 11:13 AM
  1. #6, Antonia: I'm sorry--I think it's so sad and disheartening that you "succumbed" (implying that you were not comfortable with it but gave in because all her friends were doing it) And not only that, parents are actually encouraging their children to lie to get around the age rules that are clearly in place for a reason. Who are the parents here? Why can't we, as parents, band together and decide to let our kids be kids for as long as possible. Why can't we teach them that sometimes you can't do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it. There are things you can do as an older teenager that are just not appropriate for a 6th grader. End of story. I am the mother of an 8-year-old girl, and this terrifies me.

    Posted by KB March 4, 11 11:53 AM
  1. I think it's a bit hypocritical for parents to pass judgment as to when it's 'okay' for a child to use Facebook when so many of them don't REALLY understand what Facebook is. To so many of them, it's just another toy, a waste of time like video games and cheap TV shows. But the fact is that Facebook is the next generation of social networking, and in order to keep pace socially and in terms of their technical skills, children need to be as proficient and possible, as soon as possible.

    Imagine what would happen if you told your children they were too young to talk on the phone? It would socially retard them. Limiting their access to Facebook, and whatever comes next is going to do the same thing.

    Instead we need to educate them. Facebook isn't a toy, or a privilege, it's a tool. But in order for a parent to education their children, then need to educate themselves first.

    Posted by ChristopherM March 4, 11 11:58 AM
  1. No FB for me. NO for my son. End of story.

    Posted by jjr1968 March 4, 11 12:08 PM
  1. Why would you want to encourage/allow your child to LIE to get a Facebook account? And how do you distinguish between this type of lie and other, more serious ones? "You can lie to Facebook and to the IRS like Daddy, but not to the police." Come on, people! They'll be 13 before you know it. Use this to teach them the patience of waiting for what they want, as well as respect for the law.

    Posted by NoNonsenseMom March 4, 11 12:29 PM
  1. Yes, kids need to become technically savvy, but there are other avenues besides Facebook to do it on. There are plenty of kid-oriented sites, like Club Penguin and Lego Universe, where kids can meet up with their friends without divulging personal information about themselves to the wider world.

    Kids eventually need to learn how to have sex, too, but that doesn't mean that we should encourage 10-year-olds to play doctor. The notion that our tech-savvy kids could somehow not be able to figure out FB or cell phones when they are 16 if they're not introduced to them at age 10 is just silly. If us "elderly" parents can figure it out fairly quickly, certainly our quick-witted children can do so, too.

    I'm having the same kinds of discussions with my 11-year-old. All his friends have cell phones, and we've told him no. The peer pressure is hard -- hard on us, when the other parents are all jumping on the bandwagon ;-) -- but I remind myself that I survived well into adulthood without a cellphone, so I know my kid can wait till high school.

    Posted by SandyEE March 4, 11 12:39 PM
  1. Sorry...I'm NOT a facebook fan. Despit many invites to join, I want no part of it. Its like a gigantic chatroom and as of late is getting people into trouble and causing others to lose jobs. I'm now hearing that some employers are looking at the profile of potential new hires and if they don't like what they see....no job.
    Its such a waste of time and energy. Wouldn't these kids be better off outside playing and engaging in real conversations with real people to establish some later in life social skills?? We have become too much of a "techy society" and need to start moving away from that and get back in touch with each other.....IN PERSON !!!!

    Posted by Liz March 4, 11 12:40 PM
  1. I actually knew about the federal rule about internet sites collecting data on childeren under 13, so when my 9 year old wanted a facebook account, I let her type in her information including her real DOB and it rejected her. This way *I* wasn't the bad Mummy saying no it was Facebook! This why some sites designed for kids ask for a parent's e-mail.

    Posted by Red March 4, 11 12:49 PM
  1. Christopher, I have a Facebook and Twitter account and yes I do REALLY understand the role these tools play in our world. Really I do--it's actually not rocket science. Computer social networking is a part of our world now--I get it. I just don't think it takes years of training to learn to use and understand Facebook--it's part of our kids' world and when they reach the age at which this and other social networking tools are actually useful and necessary, they will be able to use them. If my 75-year-old mother-in-law who didn't have a computer until 10 years ago can become proficient at Facebook, I'm really not worried about my 5 year old and 8 year old, who will have grown up with technology. I just feel entering the world of Facebook can wait until 14 or 15. (or course, provided they are responsible and have their priorities in order). Kids do a lot of maturing in the middle school years.

    Posted by KB March 4, 11 01:03 PM
  1. As a middle school teacher, I can tell you one thing: the kids who don't have Facebook are at a true ADVANTAGE. They are not caught up in the drama/bullying/stalking morning, noon, and night. Their social "status" and social life is not all they think about and they are not consumed with "who said what" and who was "just making a joke" when they hurt someone's feelings. I am a young teacher...I have Facebook for my own personal use. I am telling parents now: If you are not seeing your kid's Facebook from logging in under their own names, you are not seeing their Facebook. They are more savy then you think. Ask any teacher, administrator, guidance counselor or student.....Facebook has easily bcome the ROOT of any and all issues that come up in school. Middle School kids have enough to worry about( trying to find themselves an identity and where to fit in at this age). The last thing they need is an online social site guiding them in doing this.
    As for the last comment: "it would socially retard them"....give me a break. Not fighting might "socially retard" them, do you tell them to fight? Not drinking/smoking/doing drugs might "socially retard" them...do you have them do those things? Parent's that put their kids on Facebook at an early age are pretty much tossing them into the "mean girls", "bullying", "he-said, she-said", "did you see what they posted?" world that is taking over these kids lives. And last time I checked, that world did not get any kid a better MCAS score, a job, or a college interview. In fact, now their facebook accounts are being used against them in such instances. I wouldn't do that to my kid, that's for damn sure.


    Posted by teach March 4, 11 01:20 PM
  1. Kudos to comment #3 for pointing out that Facebook's 13+ policy was probably not "arbitrarily chosen", and is likely following the COPPA law. Disappointing that the author apparently didn't research this a bit more beforehand. Makes me think twice about considering her advice.

    Posted by MikeUMA March 4, 11 01:26 PM
  1. I am a high school teacher. When parents teach children that the rules do not apply to them (FB's age requirement is 13, but ignore that, sweetie) and teach them how to lie to break the rules (just put in 1995 for your birthday, honey), you are teaching them to have zero respect for authority. It wreaks havoc in the classroom. Students cheat and lie and break rules because they simply do not believe rules must be followed. Literally, they look bewildered and ask, "What's the big deal?"

    Do your children a favor and parent them when they are little. What do you think will happen when they are 16 and believe they don't have to obey YOU? Or laws?

    Posted by High School Teacher March 4, 11 01:28 PM
  1. I think it's a bit hypocritical for parents to pass judgment as to when it's 'okay' for a child to use Facebook when so many of them don't REALLY understand what Facebook is. To so many of them, it's just another toy, a waste of time like video games and cheap TV shows
    --------------------------------
    So you've polled us all and know what we think? I must have missed your phone call. Look, I'm a parent and use FB. I use it because I have friends all across the country from highschool and college days, and we can keep it in touch through FB. It is a great tool for me. I think perhaps you have an unrealistic notion of the age of all of us parents and the demographics we might fit into.

    Also: you say "in order to keep pace socially and in terms of their technical skills, children need to be as proficient and possible, as soon as possible."

    That shouldn't mean "as soon as they are functionally capable of using a keyboard." It should mean "as soon as they are capable of exercising the judgment required to use online tools." Of *course* parents need to educate and guide their kids through the use of technological tools -- but there is something naive in thinking that a child's own judgment won't come into play. What use is a tool if the child doesn't have the neorological capability to understand it and use it safely?
    For pete's sake they need to be proficient with computers too -- do you argue that they should be sitting in front of a computer screen when they are 3 or 4, because they are likely physically capable of using it then? Find me doctors and researchers who think staring at and using computers, in any form, *helps* young brain development and we'll talk. Right now, medical wisdom is that it is NOT helpful, and can be harmful.

    Using tools is great -- but not if the child doesn't have the critical thinking and analytical ability first. Too many people confuse computer literacy with *thinking* skills. The two are not the same. Reliance on the former stunts growth of the latter. My oldest child, at 16, is proficient at all manner of computer tools. (The social networking of FB, and also the more research and technology driven tools laptops and computers possess). He did not have access to a computer until he was 14 (he used mine for school projects, but that was it). He did not get the ability to be on FB until he was 15. It has not hindered his technological, or his social, learning at all.

    Posted by jjlen March 4, 11 01:43 PM
  1. comment regarding Club Penguin. My niece is a sophomore in college and she told me about a common "game" played during "boring" classes. Everyone creates a Club Penguin account and then race to see who gets banned first.

    Posted by TheBeerbarian March 4, 11 01:46 PM
  1. Thank you to the teachers who posted (#24 and #26) and provided a reality check . . .

    Posted by KB March 4, 11 02:04 PM
  1. Oh, and you know what you get if you don't succumb to the "the tools is out there so kids have to learn it now now now" mentality?

    Kids who can carry on a conversation. Who have interests outside the flashing screen. Who are active. Who can think critically. Who are curious about the world. Who may even... gasp.... read.

    On top of that, when they are older, you add access to and help with technology, and you have smart, savvy, interesting young adults.

    Posted by jjlen March 4, 11 02:14 PM
  1. well said, yoshimi25 - and the teachers who can document the classroom effects!

    Posted by Q March 4, 11 02:22 PM
  1. Club Penguin is tightly moderated, so those sophomoric sophomores would get bumped off pretty quickly. It is dead easy to get kicked off of Club Penguin -- if a kid mentions ANY personal information about him- or herself, they get suspended (and their parents get email). If a member asks personal questions of other members, they get suspended. The bar on that site is set pretty low, so it really doesn't take much to get kicked off.

    I won't say what I think about people who mess around in young children's playgrounds, except that perhaps those folks should find a more challenging hobby.

    Posted by SandyEE March 4, 11 02:31 PM
  1. I agree that kids should not be allowed on facebook until they are 13 or in high school. However, not allowing them to have one once in high school is incovenient for many reasons. Lets face it. The world is run on facebook. Clubs, sports teams, and groups use facebook to keep communitaction and activities going. In high school, many kids need a facebook to stay in the loop of extracurriculars.

    Posted by Rose March 4, 11 03:11 PM
  1. 10yrs. old too young for facebook and any other site,because internet so danger for adult,ten yrs old need to be reading story book.

    Posted by charlotte cooper March 4, 11 03:17 PM
  1. The parents who advocate "monitoring" their children by having their child "friend" them on facebook.... a lot of the facebook bullying takes place on "facebook chat", which parents who friend their children cannot see. My 13 year old sister has facebook, and I know that a lot of bad things go on over chat that aren't posted publicly.

    If you are going to let your child get a facebook account, it's not enough to friend them; you should know their passwords, and demand equal access to their account. If they're doing the right thing, there shouldn't be anything to hide.

    Posted by Jessica March 4, 11 03:51 PM
  1. No FB until high school. I have taught both middle school and high school and I can tell you without a doubt that the younger kids are not ready to handle interaction on a social networking site. Also, keep the computer in the family room, where you can see it - NOT in the kids' bedroom.

    Posted by erin March 4, 11 05:24 PM
  1. FB is a complete waste of time. give your kids a book or a newspaper to read or encourage them to take music lessons and develop an interest or skill.

    Posted by bobo March 4, 11 05:45 PM
  1. Agree with Holly and MikeUMA. Facebook is simply engaging in a straightforward application of COPPA; it is (rightly) nearly impossible for online sites to legally gather information on children below age 13. Only a very few educational and other sites even attempt to comply with it, all others simply refuse to engage in the complex COPPA-compliant registrations, which was probably the goal of the law to start with. It has absolutely nothing to do with brain development or anything else. No need to overanalyze the age restriction. Not to be presumptuous, but this one probably warrants a correction and/or update so that your readers are aware of this law.

    Posted by Aaron March 4, 11 07:57 PM
  1. I don't have kids,but if I did I doubt I'd even have a computer in my house. I've seen some of the stuff that goes on in cyberspace. Why subject impressionable,sensitive youngsters to that? Parents who act like the TV or the computer is supposed to be a substitute babysitter make me sick. "It keeps him/her quiet. It's something he/she likes to do," Feh. While your kid's being all quiet,you don't know who is on the other side being quiet with them.

    Posted by Jason March 5, 11 01:15 AM
  1. Just change the year of birth, and problem solved if you're okay with your child having an FB page. If not, then tell them no, but don't be surprised when a 5th grader is smart enough to figure out the date changing on their own. 10 is about the right age to start allowing freedoms like FB.

    It's far better to give permission and use the opportunity to talk about safe online behavior than to have them make mistakes on their own. It's naive to think that not having a computer is an option---all the jobs when they grow up that don't involve asking if they want fries with that will require computer skills (and so does working for McDonalds, fwiw). Third graders at our school were doing power point, and by 5th they're expected to know how to do internet based research. Social networking isn't going to go away...and if you don't use the technology, they'll still use it and you won't have any understanding of it.

    BTW...it's adorable that you think by friending them you can see what they're doing. There all kinds of way to segregate your friends so that some people see some of what you post and others don't...and there's no way for you to know.

    Posted by C March 5, 11 08:21 AM
  1. Facebook didn't arbitrarily choose 13, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 requires websites to prohibit children under the age of 13 from providing information.

    Posted by lordwow March 5, 11 08:45 AM
  1. I sincerely hope Facebook is not such a big deal when my toddler gets to junior high/high school. I'm sure it will be, but I can hope, right?
    If you do allow your child to get an account (at 13), I believe they should give you their login information. However, what control do you have if they open a second account through which they do whatever they like?

    Facebook is great for adults to keep in contact, but its a cesspool of uselessness and wastefulness for young kids. They see each other every day. What do they need facebook for?

    Posted by lala March 5, 11 10:01 AM
  1. What's the rush????

    Posted by Robin March 5, 11 10:03 AM
  1. The worst part is not just kids being on Facebook- it's when their teachers are friends with them on Facebook!! I am a middle/high school teacher and I see so many colleagues posting personal photos and wall posts that all of their students can see (because they have "friended" them). So weird!!

    Posted by liza1 March 5, 11 04:55 PM
  1. I'm 12 and I have a facebook. I don't care what they say, really I don't.
    I think parents should backoff. We know about cyberbullying. So leave us alone.. We can make decisions for ourselves. We are humans too.

    Posted by Lilly March 6, 11 12:00 AM
  1. Im 14 and I dont have a facebook. The reason is my brother that says me not to open it ! What can I do ?? I'm older then 13 :)

    Posted by arlsa96 March 6, 11 02:34 AM
  1. My daughter-in-law has gotten my grandsons a facebook page of their own. One is 3 years old and one is 2. She has their right names and month and day they were born, but has the wrong birth year. You can tell by their pictures on their page that they are just little boys. She is using their page to use very bad language and to talk about people in a very bad way.When you read the posts it looks like they are saying these things instead of her. I was wondering if there is a way to put a stop to this.

    Posted by caring grandmother March 7, 11 07:56 AM
  1. Lord help us all when we think about the next generations leading our future...OH the world is in trouble! they are incapable of making grown up decisions at such a young age. aAnd they live by the phones or FB or twitter or whatever other technology has to offer. It really is a pathetic world when this is what it has become. Revolved around Facebook and texting! Sad times.

    Posted by jd March 7, 11 01:30 PM
  1. In it's current configuration, it's too risky for kids, the same way talking to strangers is too risky.

    There are sites for kids that have a social element, like Webkinz.

    Nevertheless, I would bet a gold sovereign that Facebook will evolve to tap this market.

    Posted by Dan Cleo March 7, 11 09:55 PM
  1. facebook is a tool by social engineering profiteers to 'mine' (as in dig up/extract/expose) the participants of their behaviors, attitudes, activities and thence use that information for gain.

    it is a portal for law enforcement and 'those that can pay for it' to gain unspecified private information. it is no more 'secure' than having a conversation/meeting in a public plaza.

    each individual is imprisoned by their learned dependency on the limited social interactions 'graciously provided' by this. it preys upon the very lack of self control, impulsiveness, and naivete of the participants.

    Posted by pete k March 9, 11 01:31 AM
  1. Gosh - I didn't realize that bullying and pedophiles only evolved since FB was founded!! Kids talk and bully and share information in more ways than just on FB. They write nasty notes or talk and whisper to each other. Some get caught up in the social games and some don't. Pedophiles have always unfortunately used many tools to get to kids. Cyberbullying and cyber stalking are a relatively new and scary medium of an old problem and avoiding FB is not going to address this. As with all things in life - everything in moderation. My kids have access to FB, but also play sports, have friends over to play and yes - we even read books - together and independently. FB is not some sort after privilege in our house - it's just another piece of technology that we use to stay in touch - like a phone call or skype to our overseas family and friends. Responsible parenting and educating children is the only tool we have in this tech savy new world. Keep your computers in your public living space so you can keep an eye on them - teach your children about safety and appropriate behavior and above all - supervise and BALANCE. Unless your kids go to a school where cellphones and computers are generically banned - your child is going to be exposed to these things - like it or not. Just like the child who is not allowed sweets gets obsessed with them - so maybe the child who is not allowed technology

    Posted by EmEs March 9, 11 05:38 AM
  1. Lilly: At 12, with a Facebook, you've automatically rendered Facebook in violation of Federal Law. So, regardless of what you think about parents' opinions, you're still wrong.

    Posted by Phe March 17, 11 03:05 PM
  1. for all of you who keep saying, "Keep the computer in the public space," do you not realize that virtually every cell phone has internet access??

    Posted by Patty March 18, 11 08:50 PM
  1. My 11yr started her own page. When I found out I took it down because she was not being appropriate (posted that she was single, interested in men). The next day she started another page with an alias. I did not find out about this until 1 year later! Turns out many of my friends and family are friends with her. When i asked them about this their response was that she asked them not to tell me and they didn't want to start any drama cause they were monitoring her page for me! I am mortified by how careless people can be on social networks, adults can't even handle it!

    Posted by Robie-lyn April 19, 11 09:38 AM
  1. This is stupid kids are not that dumb if just tell them to make friends with anybody you don't know! Also you can hide all your personal stuff.

    Posted by Michelle May 11, 11 06:39 PM
  1. You do realize that they can hide all kinds of information from you even if you "friend" your kids, right?

    And that they can go to a library and just create a different account under a different name/bdate, right?

    You can't actually "monitor" your child's FB usage, but it's adorable how many of you think you can.

    Posted by C May 22, 11 01:48 AM
  1. I'm 12. I had one since fourth grade. I don't add people I have never met face to face, and know about online safety. I do not agree that 13 is when you first become mentally mature enough, because I am just as mature (even more mature) then my 13 year old friends. My 15 year old sister treats me like she treats her friends, and she started school early so all her friends are older. I really think people need to stop acting like 12 year olds are as immature as they used to be. I also think they need to stop stereotyping us as well.

    Posted by S October 27, 11 05:23 PM
  1. Great to read all the comments here and how other parents have grappled with this issue. Opening up my FB tonight I noticed that my son showed up on People That I Might know. I was shocked to say the least as my 11 yo didnt seek my wife or my permission to join. We've just had a long talk with our son and told him that he shouldve asked permission to set up the FB account. Consequently we advised him to close the account.

    Posted by Eric December 21, 11 07:06 AM
  1. Did you know that kids do actually have a brain? If you don't let them, they will find a way to get on it anyway.

    Posted by Dfgggbg January 9, 12 05:02 PM
  1. I have thoroughly enjoyed this "chat" and am glad to see I'm not alone in keeping my 11 year old (and oldest) pretty limited in terms of Internet access. I came across this blog because I just received an email saying my son, who just set up his first email address, has opened a twitter account. He's about to wake up and I need to figure this out quickly. I don't twitter and know nothing about it. Any thoughts?

    Posted by Edm January 12, 12 06:03 AM
  1. Please tell me what contract a minor can enter in to? How could you people arbitrarily throw away your childs right to privacy? I, as a parent am responsible for my child by every legal definition, but yet, they can throw away that which I have so rigorously protected without my consent or authorization I profess is illegal. These so called contracts are VOIDABLE and guess who gets to VOID them....their LEGAL GUARDIANS. FB should be sued.

    Posted by Daria Kemp May 23, 12 02:11 AM
  1. My 8-year old grandson just created his own Face Book page, after we already told him he couldn't have one. We were upset, of course, but at the same time we were amazed that he was able to actually sit down and create this thing, albeit changing his birth year from 2005 to 1998. He entered his favorite book, places he's gone to with friends and family. A friend suggested we take him to the library to keep his mind focused - sorry, been there, done that - he's been going to the library since he was 3-years old. Whatever gadget is placed in front of him, he masters. What do we do? Are there tech classes for 8-year olds? How do we keep him focused and on the straight and narrow without him getting bored by limiting what he can/can't do regarding all this technology that he's so eager to be a part of? We're from The Bronx, New York and I'm searching for ways in which he can "express himself". My grandson's words, not mine. You see what we're dealing with here? :)

    Posted by Denise Bassett August 12, 13 12:44 PM
  1. I let my 4 year old use Facebook. However I told her I have the right to check she isn't posting inappropriate info or adding strangers. Every afternoon after school for 1 hour she goes on it. I don't punish Amelia for breaking rules. Instead I explain to her till she gets it. My partner agrees with me. I also teach her about technology in a way she understands.

    And of course I refuse to let her use it during homework hour or meals. My opinion is that if kids are emotionally capable, let them use it. She has her own first cheap iPad I got her 4 weeks ago. She doesn't have unrestricted use she's too little. My baby girl Felicity doesn't have one.

    Posted by Tara December 14, 13 02:52 PM
add your comment
Required
Required (will not be published)

This blogger might want to review your comment before posting it.

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

Submit a question for Barbara's Mailbag


Ask Barbara a question

Barbara answers questions on a wide range of topics, including autism, breastfeeding, bullying, discipline, divorce, kindergarten, potty training, sleep, tantrums, and much, much more.

Send your questions to her at:
meltzbarbara (at) gmail.com.
Please include your name and hometown.
Moms
All parenting discussions
Discussions

High needs/fussy baby

memes98 writes "My 10.5 month old DS has been fussy ever since he was born, but I am getting very frustrated because I thought he would be much better by now...has anyone else been through this?"

More community voices

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street

RSS feed


click here to subscribe to
Child Caring

archives