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Anonymous asks:
Q:

What/how to communicate with parent friends who are allowing their under-age children on Facebook?

The minimum age for participation on Facebook is age 13, and I agree with that term of use. There is adult-centered conversation and content on that site that I think should be filtered by a child's parent, or viewed/discussed together, vs. child exploring that content solo.  

I'm disappointed with some of my friends who are allowing their children younger than 13 to create Facebook profiles:

>A recently divorced, executive dad who has let his 12 year old daughter create her own account, and

>A busy married mom/entrepreneur who allowed her 10 year old to create an account because all the other kids at school were doing it too.

I discouraged these parents from allowing their children to be on Facebook, and also encouraged them that if they were going to allow it, to be 'friends' with their children on the site, monitor their activity and keep the computer in the family room where they can be watched while online.

What else can I do? I don't think I'll be able to convince them to close their children's accounts -- they weren't convinced with my last attempt. In the absence of that, what other tips can I give them? Or should I just mind my own business and hope for the best for their families?
In Topics: Children and the internet, Parenting / Our Family, Technology and my child
> 60 days ago

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Expert

JeanneBrockmyer
Nov 12, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Sounds like you have been a good friend and have made some excellent suggestions.  That may be all you can do with respect to other people's children.
You don't mention if you have a child in that age range.  If you do, I could see concern that your rule could be challenged if your child's friends are allowed to have a Facebook page.  If that is the case be sure to have ongoing conversations with your child about the reasons behind the age rule.

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kat_eden
Jan 21, 2010
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Best Answer!

what's this?
from a fellow member
Hi there,

This is such a great question and one that we're all going to have to answer for ourselves as kids get more and more access to technology. I think every parent has to figure out what's best for their kids and their family. I don't know that "minding your own business" is the right approach...I think it's great that you care enough to have these tough conversations with your friends. But I think once you've shared your opinions, and the information you've drawn from to form those opinions, you have to respect the parents' decision and trust that they're doing what they think is best for their children.

A lot of experts are actually saying that "forbidding" the use of Facebook and other tools and technologies might be a big mistake. If a kid wants to get on Facebook, they're going to get on Facebook. Between the library, their friends' houses, and the many other public access points, it's naive for a parent to think they can keep their kids away. It may be healthier to sit with your child as they set up their Facebook page so that you can talk to them about the choices they make about what to share and the possible consequences of those decisions today and in the future. If you start having open dialog from the start, you'll be more likely to stay in the "circle of trust" rather than having a kid who's living a secret life online that you know nothing about.

A mom I trush a lot recently said this to me.  "Is it scary to think about your middle schooler going to a dance?  Yes!  But do you forbid them from going?  No!  But do you drop them off at the dance without talking to them about appropriate behavior there?  No!  Nor do you pick them up from the dance without talking to them about what happened there.  Taking care of your kids online isn't so different.  You can't tell them they can't go, but you also don't drop them off their without talking to them first and you don't miss the chance to talk to them after."  That made a lot of sense to me!

Education.com has a great resource about raising kids in the digital world. Maybe some of those articles would be helpful for you to share with your friends and to check out yourself. There really aren't easy answers when it comes to this issue. I think it's important that we all keep talking about it, do the best we can for our kids, and try to support other parents as they do the same.

Best,
Kat
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Additional Answers (3)

Loddie1
Loddie1 , Parent writes:
Well, it is kinda like bringing a horse to the water, but you can't make it drink it. My dad used to say this when I found myself in tough situations regarding other people's lives. And it is true. The best thing you can do is talk to your friends about how you feel. But ultimately, it will be their choice. I know, breaking the TOS is not right, but there is probably little going on by FB to enforce it. I think you have done a great job as a friend being concerned! Good luck!
> 60 days ago

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VolMom
VolMom writes:
As the founder of an internet company (www.VolunteerSpot.com) that relies on social media to 'spread the word', I'm personally well seasoned in facebook, Twitter, etc.  I was appalled to learn several of my daughter's 4th grade friends were on facebook.  When I took stock of who was allowing their kids on the site, I took a leap and decided it was parents who weren't themselves on the site and weren't aware of the possible risks for young kids (inappropriate ads, predators, profane postings, etc.).

I wrote a mass email sharing my opinion (as an opinion) on why I thought facebook was inappropriate for 9 and 10 yr olds and why my daughter would not be getting an account... and then held my breath.  I was delighted by the flood of emails back from parents in agreement and a few that replied 'they had no idea'.  The few I haven't heard from that I hear are still allowing their kids on facebook - well, that's good information for me. For those kids, playdates are at my house now, where I'm confident the kids are well supervised.
> 60 days ago

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JediMom
JediMom , School Administrator, Parent writes:
I'm so glad this topic has been brought to our attention, because as this parent mentioned, allowing under-age-13 children on Facebook or other social media is prevalent. It was also mentioned that this parent's most recent attempts to encourage parents not to allow this, have been ignored. Maybe mentioning that if (goodness forbid) a mass-media related allegation were brought against their child, they would be held 100%, legally accountable, since they are in violation of a social media's age rule.  Sanctions could include anything from fines (usually requested from the accuser) to the threat of a prison term (again, should the accuser choose to take legal action). Even if the allegation later is proven unfounded in or out of court, there is trauma and embarrassment to their child(ren) and for the rest of the immediate and extended family. I hate to play the legal card at anytime, but sometimes it is the one that resonates the most with parents. If this card does not work, then at least you have done your best to provide the parents with information. After that, it then is up to the parents to decide. I will be on the lookout for a study or a peer-reviewed article to attach here at a later date. Best of luck to you!
> 60 days ago

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