Kids on Facebook – Yes, No, Maybe?

In a recent interview on the Today show, Michelle Obama said that her two daughters are not on Facebook.  This little tidbit caused a mini flurry on the Internet.  I don’t think it’s too surprising, given that the Obama girls are 9 and 12.  And they live in the White House. My daughter is 10 and is not a member either.  She knows about Facebook since she’s seen me using it.  It is likely she’ll want to use Facebook at some point in the future.  In fact I asked her how old did she think someone should be before joining? She said 13.  I asked, why 13? “Well, then you’re a teenager”.  Aha.

Will I let her join at 13? (Which by the way is youngest age for joining Facebook anyway, per their terms of agreement). I’m not sure, but if I did, I would likely impose the following rules, and would suggest them for any parents thinking of letting a younger teen join:

  1. Sign up using an e-mail account that I have access to.
  2. Share her Facebook password with me so I could log into her account if necessary.  (This might be just initially to see how things go).
  3. Friend” her so that I can see her updates and view her profile.  (She’d see mine too, so I’d have to keep that in mind!)
  4. Set some ground rules, such as only accept a friend request from someone who you actually know.
  5. Go through all the privacy and account settings with her step-by-step.  Be sure that the information she shares is only available to her friends. Not “Everyone”.  Not “Friends-of-Friends”.  More on this in a future post.  But as an example, here are two screenshots.  The first one is the Facebook recommended settings, the default setting.  The second shows suggested changes.

Facebook’s Recommended Settings:
Facebook's recommended settings

Jean’s Recommended Changes (at a minimum):
Jean's recommended settings - Friends only

I’m sure there are other guidelines I’m not thinking of.  Are you a parent of a young teen? Do they have Facebook? How do you help keep them safe?

Resources - these were sent just today by my daughter’s school.  Tip Sheets from NetSmartz on social networking, cyberbullying and other topics.  There are guides for parents, teens, and educators.  What I like about these is that they don’t just use scare tactics and try to talk kids out of using these sites; they offer practical guidance and even suggestions on how to benefit from social networking.  Check ‘em out:

http://www.netsmartz.org/TipSheets

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2 thoughts on “Kids on Facebook – Yes, No, Maybe?

  1. Pingback: Moshi Monsters – Facebook starter kit for kids? | Deep Thoughts by Jean

  2. Pingback: Facebook Privacy Settings Updated | Deep Thoughts by Jean

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