Setting Rules for Facebook


Anna has only ever said one thing about Facebook:

It’s Facebook not Bookface. If it was Bookface it would be like you with a book on your head.

She just turned seven so she really doesn’t get Facebook yet. But she already has her own computer, dials Grandma on our iPhone, and plasy games on the iPads at school. Like all children of her generation, she’s been surrounded by this technology for as long as she can remember.

So eventually she’ll ask about Facebook. She’ll probably want to text first, but sooner or later she’ll want a Facebook account. What’s a parent to do?

Jennifer Schaaf of the Bellville News Democrat in Bellville, Illinois, has a commonsense solution.

Well, it finally happened . . . (my daughter) finally asked if she could have her own Facebook page . . . She didn’t ask if she could have her own page right now, which is what I expected. Instead, she wanted to know if she could have one when she turns 13.

Pretty agreeable for a 12-year-old who was would have to wait a whole year for something.

“And, when you do get a Facebook page, I will always know the password and have access to it any time I want,” I said.

“For how long?” she asked.

Uhhhh …what’s a good answer? I had no idea how to answer and was totally not prepared for it. I guess I expected her to respond with a bit more defiance when I informed her I’d be poking around in her private life online and probably finding ways to embarrass her in the process.

“Ummm, until you’re 18,” I said, just pulling a random age out of the air. I can’t say I really want to know what’s going on in her private online life when she’s 18, but it was the first number that popped in to my head.

“Oh. OK, that’s fine,” she replied and went back to texting one of her friends.

I like her approach. Not until you’re 13—that’s the rules, even though a lot of kids make up fake birth years to sidestep that restriction, and until you’re an adult, a parent should be able to know what’s going on—not to snoop, I hope, but just to keep a child safe. There are too many weirdos out there, and as a recent news story proved, anyone can fake an identity online. When it’s adults, it can be hurtful and embarrassing, but when a kid’s involved it can be dangerous.

A little caution and common sense, and clear rules set in advance, are the best approach to stay safe and responsible.

Until then, I’ll encourage my daughter to spend most of her time with the other kind of books. They’re far more rewarding, and they won’t leave you feeling like these guys.


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