The other day, Robin at Farewell Stranger, posted a topic about Facebook and the thoughts and feelings she had associated with it. She was wondering how it would be when her son grew up to one day “get on FB”.
After I started writing out all of the experiences I’ve had with my tweenager getting on Facebook, I realized that I might actually have some information that might help people searching for ideas on what to do with tweens who want to get on FB. Big disclaimer: I’m no expert. I simply have experience here.
First of all, it must be said that my tweenager is just that: a tweenager. I know a lot of you out there are probably wondering how the heck I would let someone who is below the “legal age limit” to join Facebook. If you’re following my blog, you are aware of the huge journey we went on last year over to Switzerland for 5 months. At the end of that trip, we felt Facebook was the perfect way for her to keep in touch with her friends that she had made over there. I would no way condone getting Facebook before the age of 13 unless those events had happened.
And now onto my top 11 pieces of advice for someone thinking about letting their young adult on Facebook:
- We had a big serious conversation with her before she signed up about things she can and can’t post, FB behaviors, and general etiquette (hello chain mail). Something for her to sign would have been great for reference later (a Facebook contract).
- We’ve definitely helicopter parented by being friends with her. But that was one of the stipulations to getting an account.
- Computer in the living room doesn’t matter anymore… kids nowadays have iPods/phones that connect to FB – easily.
- Make sure they understand that if they think that school is challenging to navigate, FB just adds another complicated layer.
- Explain that their behavior on FB is now recorded for all to see forever! So any prospective employers might be able to see your adoration of One Direction.
- Go through the privacy settings TOGETHER.
- Have a pseudonym for your tween. Hans Solo or Princess Leia will do just fine.
- Since their profile photo is never hidden on FB (all the world can see it) have their face blocked or ‘creatively captured’ so it’s not so obvious who it is. Make this a rule to using FB.
- There’s a lot of crap out there that tweens adore. “Fill this questionaire out on the top 100 things about you (hair colour, eye colour, etc… ) and guess what? Now, everyone knows EVERYTHING about you!” Yeah, don’t fill that crap out. You’re just giving away all your personal information if you do that.
- What was given can be taken away if used improperly.
- Above all, keep lines of communication open and monitor!