facebook for adults only?

While reading CNN this morning, I stumbled upon an article about how middle schoolers should not be allowed to partake in social networking sites.

I’m torn on that.

Anthony Orsini is a middle school principal in New Jersey. He says: “There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!,” he wrote. “Let me repeat that – there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!”

He goes on to say:

His school’s guidance counselors for years now have been mediating spats that originated online, Orsini said. The last straw for him was students’ growing use of Formspring, a social-networking upstart where members ask and answer questions about one another.

Now, personally, I couldn’t imagine what high school would have been like, had there been facebook. Probably a lot more stressful. I mean, what if so-and-so doesn’t accept your friend request, yet you have to see this person daily? I went to a very small school, where my graduating class had about 72. The grades went from 7 to 12. We knew everyone. So facebooking and being in high school would have been so … well … high school. You know what I mean.

More from the article:

A Facebook spokesman pointed out that many middle school-age children are formally barred from the site. “We prohibit children under the age of 13 from using Facebook both for safety reasons and to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act,” the spokesman said.

That doesn’t mean kids under 13 don’t have accounts. I mean, really, what are they going to do? Ask for your social security number? Birth certificate? Blood sample? No way! They go on the basis that if you click a button stating that you’re 13 and older you really MUST BE!

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a parent of a tween. But just knowing how hard it is to begin with, dealing with all of your emotions and such, then adding a social networking site…no thanks. I understand that it really comes down to a parenting decision and it is for the parent to make, not me. The good thing about it, is that if you friend your son or daughter, then you can keep tabs on their activity. That doesn’t mean you can see private messages or what happens when they use the chat, but at least that gives the parent a small handle on what’s going on. Do I still think kids should be on there? Probably not.

I find that being an adult, we have a proper decorum on the site. For me, if someone says something untasteful, snarky, or just plain dumb, I either delete it, ignore it, or say something appeasing. I guess that’s the difference between adults and kids. We will then use that as fuel to talk behind that person’s back. That probably doesn’t make things much better, but at least we aren’t typically lead to suicide.

When I was a kid, I would use AIM. That alone was stressful. But you couldn’t just find so and so on there. You had to know you were finding each other. I communicated a lot with my boyfriend through there. The good part about that for parents? It’s all stored in a cache. Your kid just doesn’t know it. Phone conversations aren’t. However, if you’re that untrusting of your child, you should probably be having a conversation with them, not going behind their backs.

I still remember a lot about high school. Good, bad, inbetween. How many movies are made where the main character is still burned by what went down in high school? It’s a big part of growing up and an even bigger part of who we become.

Kids can be cruel. Whether it’s in person or online. Look at the boy from Florida who was doused with lighter fluid and set on fire? Then look at the girl who committed suicide because of being taunted on facebook. Personally, that all comes down to parenting and kids in general. But that’s another debate for another day.

What do you guys think? Do you think kids can handle it? Or should it be one of those privileges that comes with age, like driving, voting and drinking?

About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on May 3, 2010, in Cassie and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. It is a privilege and one that my 13 year old does not have yet. Raising kids is hard, and that difficulty multiplies when they become a teen. And I’m only just starting into teenage-dom. My “teen” is not allowed on the computer much at all. And only supervised. There is so much out there that she doesn’t need to see yet. I’m trying to help her hold onto her innocence for as long as possible. That doesn’t mean I’m avoiding the talks that you need to have with your kid. It just means that someday I’ll have no control over what she does, who she talks to, and what she sees – and we all know that life is no picnic. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want her to grow up (okay I don’t). It means that there’s no rush and teenagers how this belief that they’re a lot older and more mature than they really are. As a mother, I have to find that perfect balance between letting her stretch her wings and making sure she doesn’t fall out of the nest.
    So, no Facebook for my teen yet. Even though she’s technically old enough to have an account, I can’t control what she may see on there. When she does get an account, I will have full access, and I will check it on a regular basis, as I do with her cell phone. It’s not an invasion of privacy because, well, I can’t even pee alone, so there’s no such thing as privacy. Heck, checking her text messages is how I found out she had a boyfriend and who he was. It’s a work in progress, with her being completely open one week and hiding things the next. Voting and drinking are two “privileges” I, more than likely, won’t have any say over. But she won’t be driving until either (a) Eric and I think she’s ready or (b) she moves out. Same with Facebook. Heck I still try to monitor what she watches on TV.
    It’s a dog eat dog world out there and I gotta protect my pups. :o)

    • Cassie or Carly

      Do you ever worry that your kids will go behind your back because you don’t allow certain things?

      It’s a lot of responsibility…being a kid and a Mom.

  2. Kids are expert at finding ways around their restrictions. It should be assumed that they will come up with a way to do what they want, be it meeting a friend the parents don’t like, to using a library computer to maintain a facebook account. Or even set up one dummy account to show the parents and one “real” one to use with friends.

    No parent should ever tell themselves, “my baby would NEVER do that…”

    Sometimes, it’s just painfully easy.

    I remember once when I was 8, I wanted to go bow and arrow hunting with my friend Mike. (Mike was 11, so as far as I was concerned, he knew everything.)

    So it was like, “Mom, can I go bow and arrow hunting with Mike?”

    “NO!!!!!”

    I went outside to confer with Mike, came back in and asked, “Mom, can I go in the woods and look for rabbit tracks with Mike?”

    “OK.”

    So we promptly went looking at tracks… with Mike’s bows and arrows.

    Funny part was, he actually shot one… a great shot from about 25 feet. I had no ideas rabbits could make noise, but then I’d never seen one get an arrow shot into his back. Mike had to keep shooting it to make it stop, pulling out the arrows and shooting it again and again. I was completely horrified by the whole experience. I’ve never had even the most remote interest in hunting, ever since.

    • Cassie or Carly

      Perhaps, then, your Mom did you a service?

      My husband’s growing up is notorious for parent’s ‘not knowing’ what’s going on. How else can you explain half his teenaged years? I’m thinking, though, if you have an open, honest relationship with your kid, then you’re more likely to have your kid not be defiant. IE: My Mom. She told us about sex, swearing, drinking, drugs…ad nauseum. But…it worked! Sure, we all have our rebellious times, mine was when I was an adult, able to ‘make my own decisions.’ Ha! I was still a kid, but that’s neither here nor there.

  3. I think it just depends on the kid. Ian has a FB account, as you know, but he’s rarely on it and has few friends. I’m more concerned about YouTube. That’s a site I’m not super cool with just because there are A LOT more questionable things on there than there are on FB. I try my best to “hack” into his email on occasion, but I, too, think going behind his back is counterproductive. And when I have gone on his email, it’s pretty much geeked out kind of video game hacking stuff. No worries there.

    With that being said, I’m sure he’s doing things I don’t know about. It’s part of growing up and testing boundaries. We all did it and anyone who said they didn’t is lying. But being a mom, I have intuition and eyes on the back of my head and I think I surprise Ian more often than not when he finds out that I know what he’s up to. It’s pretty hard to fool me, but this is because I know my child.

    Oh, and he’s a moody tween in the midst of full on puberty (god help me know), I want to ship him off to boarding school most of the time. Read my latest FB status! Ha!

    • Cassie or Carly

      It totally depends on the kid. But not all kids can handle such freedoms. I know that it’s all about testing boundaries. It’s what they do. Even at 2, Claire tests her limits. But kids also NEED boundaries in order to be healthy and confident individuals. They rely on it.

      And you’re right about You Tube. But also, the internet in general is scary. And it’s not the Porn that scares me. It’s the cruelty, Michael Berg beheadings, the online predators. That scares me. (Porn? I say whatevs. If my kid wants to watch something that is highly unlikely to happen in their own lifetime, then fine. Just talk to me about it. Because I’ll tell you sex ain’t like that. Not one bit.)

  4. There’s a difference between restrictive and prohibitive (at least in MY dictionary). My parents were prohibitive, to a fault. They just made rules, without any explanation. My mother is not good at admitting to her own faults and many of them could have helped me tremendously in life.
    So yes, I’m pretty restrictive on my oldest daughter. She’s gullible and sneaky. I make it a point to give her a little leeway, which she usually tries to push to the limits and then loses for a while. I’m not sure I’ll HAVE to be so restrictive on my 6 year old daughter, because while she likes to push limits, she’s also a rule follower like her mother. :o) Rules are there for a reason. . .and I don’t EVER like to be wrong, so if I do what I’m supposed to, no one can tell me I was wrong, right? That’s the thinking and that’s how my 2nd daughter is. She learns the first time she messes up, where my oldest still gets hollered at for the same things she’s gotten hollered at for 10 years. It really does depend on the kid and if they have your trust or not. As for my son, at 20 months, I think he’s going to be a limit tester, with a mix of rule follower in there for good measure (and if not, his 6 year old sister will MAKE him!), but who knows?

    Oh and I don’t think I’ve ever been a parent (or non-parent) that said “my child will never. . .” because between myself and my brothers, we did it all as kids. I was the paving machine, making way for those two little sneaky bastards to get away with everything I had to fight for.

    Cass – I do worry about her being sneaky. But I try to keep an open dialogue between us and when I feel her pull away, I try to pull her back. It’s my job to be a better parent that my parents were, so I always try to explain why. Like why she’s not allowed on the computer much? Because there are people on there that aren’t honest and are looking to hurt kids and there are things that she doesn’t need to see at her age and sometimes, no matter what filters you have, that stuff gets through. Why she’s not allowed to go to the movies, with her boyfriend, alone? Because I’m only 36 and not old enough to be a grandma! Come on, we ALL know what happens in movie theaters. . .no really, because she’s not old enough to have an unchaperoned “date”, in fact, she’s not old enough to date, really. But this boy is nice to her and we know his family very well, so we’re able to monitor things. She does have a cell phone and while I check it, I don’t jump down her throat at every little thing that sounds iffy. I do read her “journal”, not because I search for it, but because she’s piggish and leaves it laying around. I try to keep on top of what’s going on in her life and like I said, I can only do my best. Your kids will do what they want, whether you’re the best parent or worst. All you offer is guidance and knowledge.

    • Cassie or Carly

      I agree with that to a point. I do believe that good parenting can allow your child to be less likely to be an asshole. I mean, some kids are going to be regardless, I guess, but when they’re making these huge mistakes, you can almost always bring it back to the parents.

      Back to Matt, he wanted boundaries, he begged for boundaries … by acting out. When his parents didn’t give it to him, he figured, well hell, I can keep on acting bad, they don’t give a shit.

      The second I’d do something bad, Mom wanted to talk about it. Talk it out. Find a solution. I figured that I either had to be sneaky (which by the way is IMPOSSIBLE in Clarion) or just stop doing stupid stuff. I chose the latter.

  5. My mom did me a tremendous service. First I learned not to trust Mike. Second, I have no use for blood-sports, save for a little fishing.

    I actually had a lot of leeway, growing up. Could pretty much swear at will, (time and place, of course… not around Grandma), didn’t have much of a curfew (I just had to call to say when I was coming home. and I still busted that one all the time.)

    But I knew a hell of a lot of other kids that had parents that were far more restrictive and never let it slow them down in the least, nor did their parents ever find out what they were up to. (If those parents had ever seen their little angels out in The Barn, they would have flipped.)

    Of course, we never had the kind of technology in our hands that kids do now. Our idea of high-tech was an electric typewriter. What was I going to get into with THAT? Joke letters to the editor?

  6. All I can say is it’s tougher in some ways being a kid now then it was when I was growing up.

    We just had verbal exchanges, occasional physical threats, teasing, etc. But none of these things ever went viral. They were contained within the walls of the school or community. Nowadays almost anyone can get in on the “fun.” But it isn’t “FUN” and it isn’t “HARMLESS” and that’s the problem I have with it.

    What’s the purpose anyway of kids being on Facebook? Just because everyone else is?

    My kids have been begging for a DS, portable video game console, but I said no and will continue to say no. We did get them a Wii, but that’s restricted to weekends. But when they’re out and about they don’t need to play video games and be in their own little world. Maybe they can actually have a conversation with each other or with their parents!!!

    Nice topic!

    • Cassie or Carly

      You’re very right. Why do kids NEED a facebook account? It’s really unnecessary. And furthermore, why do kids need to grow up so fast these days? Something like facebook seems so mature. Yet, when I was 13, 14…so on, I was in band, going to the pool, playing with the Ouija board at a friend’s house and driving aimlessly in the woods. I didn’t need all this technology. Was it available? Heck yes. Not in this capacity, but it was there. I just limited it. Now it seems (myself included) that people can’t live with out it.

  7. The principal is right.

  8. I have a 12 year old. She has an email, but no Facebook. Her mother and I are in agreement with the principal here; there’s no reason for her to have one. She doesn’t even have a cell phone yet, which kills her because some of her friends do. However, we feel the same way about cell phones that we do about Facebook. It’s just not necessary yet. We made it through middle school without one, and so can she. She got her MP3 player (that we told her not to bring to school) taken away a few weeks ago. I had to go to the school and pick it up personally from the office. It was stashed in a drawer with other confiscated things, mostly cell phones. I was in awe of how many phones were in that drawer.

    • Cassie or Carly

      When I was 14 I had a cell phone. But you know what? I paid for the bill. Every month. No one ever paid it but me. That’s the way it should be.

  9. I think that it varies with the child whether they are old enough to handle the responsibility of a social networking account, but it definitely needs to be a privilege that must be earned to get an account and to keep an account. There have always been bullies, and while technology makes it easier, these kids didn’t get this way the minute they got FaceBook accounts. I’m sure that there was a history of bad behavior and bullying that was ignored by the parents, so I agree with you said about it coming down to parenting.

    I have 11 and 13 year old boys, and my 13 year old does have a FB account. He’s in a band and it is an easy way to share music videos, music and ideas with all his bandmates at once. Of course he knows that everything that is shared is under the scrutiny of mom and if he abuses this privilege it’s gone (along with a whole other list of privileges.)

    • Cassie or Carly

      And that, Tina, is active parenting. That is the way it SHOULD be. Too bad more parents aren’t that way.

  10. I think it’s very subjective. I know a couple kids who use Facebook, and to them, it’s no big deal. They friend pretty much everyone at their school, and they hardly ever post. Mostly, I think, they use it to look at each other’s photos and keep up with who’s dating whom.

    On the other hand, there’s so much potential for…badness there. I know it’s a cop-out, but I’m glad that’s one decision I won’t have to make for a while.

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