Soapbox Alert: Kids on Facebook

by | Oct 19, 2010 | Social Media & Tech | 15 comments

Did you just flinch?

I do when I think about young kids on the FB.

At the risk of taking an unpopular stand… I say if a person is under 14, they should not be on Facebook… or MySpace… or Twitter… or… *insert your choice social network here*

COPPA says so too… fyi…

My reasoning:

  1. Safety. It’s too risky. Period.
  2. Predators.
  3. Safety.
  4. If many adults are not mature enough to behave online… then odds are kids are EVEN LESS MATURE.
  5. I want my own space.
  7. My 11 year-old son doesn’t want his 11 year-old not-friends having access to his mom… hitherhencetofore – HIM.
  8. I don’t want to worry about the kids he doesn’t want to share our pictures with.
  10. It’s not legal. COPPA much?
  11. While some (the operative word here) parents do it right (allow their children access to these spaces with limits and guidance), many do not. MANY.
  12. Um… SAFETY. *ahem* and see above.

For example:

  • I am not friends with my son’s friends/not-friends on Facebook. I am not Facebook friends with anyone under 14 (OK, 1… so sue me… we all have holes in our ideals, and this is that “exception” situation). However… some of MY friends are friends with my son’s friends/not-friends… and any privacy setting I have as “friends of friends” can be viewed by those kids. KIDS.

It is frustrating for me to not have a space I feel I can be an adult. Not that I want to post “adult” content, but… I know I am being watched… by children.

Dudes. What if some 9 year-old still believes in Santa and I blow it???!!!

I could completely block my information from everyone but friends… but people… this should not be my concern. My own kids, yes. Not others. I am not the parent of these young people. The parents of these children – THEY should be concerned… about what is appropriate and what is safe. Yet, I censor myself for the sake of someone else’s child.

Just think — I am mindful… but of all the friends of friends of these 7, 8, 9 and 10 year-olds… I wonder if all of THOSE friends of friends give a flying sh*t leap or have even thought about the fact that an 8 year old might be looking at their pictures or conversations. Not to mention the people who have no privacy settings set at all.

And should they really have to worry about that?

  • Just today, I saw a 9/10 year old boy (the mother is a friend of a friend) write on his own wall — in an answer to a question from another young girl (it was clear she was young). He shared the school he attended. His entire profile is open. Videos. Pictures. Conversations… His given birth date would suggest he is 19… *lying much? that’s a great quality in a kid* His picture suggests otherwise AND suggests he could possibly be the next post-office rampager… aaaaaand apparently he is interested in women. He is 10. Or 9. I don’t know for sure.

That boy may very well be interested in girls. My first crush was in 1st grade… However, I was never asked to check a box to recognize whether I was interested in men or women. Adult. Adult. Adult.



His parents let me. His parents are essentially letting anyone scroll through their son’s videos and pictures… eventually finding the name of his school.

Does that creep you out? It creeps me out.

These spaces were created for adults. I believe there are a handful of parents helping kids safely navigate these spaces, but I think they are the exception and not the rule.

I’ll admit it. I am a bit of an alarmist. In a spectrum of paranoia, my needle points to the “high” side of the range.

In this space, what you don’t know can very well hurt… your child.

If something goes wrong here… it’s big wrong. From predators, to cyber-bullying to damaging families (kids say the darndest things…)…

As the old saying goes — Better safe than sorry.

Life has built-in risks. I question allowing high-cost risks to people who can’t even drive themselves to get french fries or a pop. Education helps.

Instead of me just throwing out stop signs and negativity… here are some things to wade through as you think about where you stand on this. Options for your kids, and information for you…

  • My friend Kadi Prescott posted a great link on one of my Facebook groups today. It’s a post from Mashable – 5 Fun and Safe Social Networks for Children. Let’s face it… social networking isn’t going away. It would be foolish to forbid a child from any access and then set them free on their 14th birthday… I love the idea of a “social networking training ground”.
  • My friend Cammie Moise founded Cyber Safe Family… it is a site robust with helpful information. Knowledge is power!
  • Safety Web walks through setting Facebook privacy settings, and offers articles about online reputation, cyberbullying and more.
  • I do not have any experience with Social Shield, but… it’s a resource I have come across. If your child is on Facebook, and you have concern or simply feel you need the added involvement, perhaps it’s worth looking into.
  • The forum-type site, BitMoms outlines topics to talk to your kids about. If your children are online, at least start opening up conversations about things like cyber-bullying, grooming, pornography, Malware, internet addiction

I just think there is too much at risk… from innocence to reputation to… … … … My concerns outlined here don’t even touch on cell phones or iPod Touches or YouTube. Parents. There is so much to think about. Literally. We cannot afford to be too tired or too old or too “adult” to bother with this stuff. Our kids are too valuable and simply, still kids.


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