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The pros and cons of Facebook for kids



If you are a parent in today's world, then you face enormous difficulties in determining what role technology should play in your children's lives. Kids are surrounded by iPods, video games, and web-enabled devices from a very young age, and even if you manage to keep your own house reasonably tech-free, you are going to hear a lot of those “but-everyone-else-has-one” arguments. And then there is Facebook.

By the time children reach middle school, the cell phone battle has usually been won or lost – and these days, kids are the winners. However, the Facebook argument is a lot harder. On the one hand, Facebook’s own rules state that no-one under the age of 13 is allowed to have an account. In fact, opening an account for anyone younger than 13 effectively means lying about their age. However, this doesn’t seem to have stopped thousands of kids from doing just that – with or without their parents consent.

In many cases, parents allow Facebook accounts at an earlier age because they see an opportunity to teach their child first-hand about the right way – and the wrong way – to use social networking. That’s an opportunity that might not be there once they hit the magic age of 13 and dive into Facebook on their own. Other parents allow it on the condition that they hold the password and are friends with their child – an arrangement they hope will last well into their teens.

If you are trying to make a decision on what’s right for your child, here’s a reminder of some of the advantages – and disadvantages – of an early Facebook account:

Advantages:

  • Social skills. Facebook allows kids to keep up with current friends and make new ones. When used in the right way, social media can increase a child’s self-esteem and help them feel less isolated.
  • Self-expression. A Facebook page gives a child their own “home page” on the web, where they can express themselves and talk about their interests. They can join groups and support fan pages, and find out what other people are interested in.
  • Digital competence. Managing a Facebook page teaches a child how to post comments and photos, and how to navigate the web. Having good online social media skills will be increasingly important as they get older.
  • Educational development. A majority of tweens and teens use social networking to discuss school work. Shared discussions about school assignments is one of the best reasons to allow access to social networks.
Disadvantages:
  • Kids can be mean. However much you school your child on the right way to behave online, you cannot stop other children from posting mean comments.
  • A Facebook account is a gateway to the whole Internet. It’s impossible to isolate a Facebook account from the rest of the Internet – links and click-through ads are everywhere. If you think your child is too young to explore the Internet or cannot be trusted to remain within the Facebook environment, then a Facebook account is a bad idea.
  • Beware of friends of friends. Often times it’s not your child’s friends that are the problem, it’s friends of friends. When your child accepts a friend request, make sure you check out their page and their list of friends. (If you are friends with your child, you need to be careful with your page too!)
Whatever your decision on Facebook, try and make the decision together. If you decide the time isn’t right, then agree a time when you can revisit the issue. The last thing you want is for your child to run off to a friend’s house and open an account on her own.

What is the right time for a Facebook account? Do you have a child under 13 with an account? What has been your experience? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

Comments:
Comment by Annette, posted 2/27/2014, 10:13 AM:

My daughter suffers from Clinical Depression. She tried to kill herself 3 times about 4 months ago. My husband and I decided that we would let our daughter have an account so she could have a support group of people to talk to outside of groups etc. at the hospital. Shortly after we did this, two people that my daughter knew killed themselves. I got online and asked for kids her age to talk to her who could relate to her situation. Thank God for Facebook.
Comment by Alex, posted 2/13/2014, 9:05 PM:

Julie Moffatt, get with the times. This is 2014 and technology is all the rage. It isn't going to destroy our society, it's going to run it, straight forward to medical and scientific advancements. You cannot stop society from evolving. Like it or not, America is at a place where a 6-year-old knows how to use a cell phone and computer more proficiently than a 40-year-old. THEY are our future, if you stop them from using technology, it's only going to hold them back.
Comment by Nathan_Swervin_On_Em, posted 2/12/2014, 2:05 PM:

What up, and I am 13 years old. We need our Facebook if not we wouldn't be able to talk to our friends and post how we feel. If we didn't have Facebook we couldn't get out and play baseball and football. I know fro my life i use Facebook everyday and i use it to tell my friends lets play football and like 16 of use go play football at a park and we have phone.. Facebook makes shy people be able to get out of there shell..
Comment by Salamier, posted 2/12/2014, 10:48 AM:

Julie Moffatt, I agree with you wholeheartedly
Comment by navayah, posted 1/28/2014, 11:59 AM:

i think that parents should not allow their kids to have a facebook at least wait until they are sixteen
Comment by shaquesha, posted 12/2/2013, 4:07 PM:

wow this is a great article. It really helps moms with struggling teens.
Comment by amber lynn thomas, posted 11/7/2013, 9:14 AM:

I really liked reading this thanks u moms help a lot!!!! :D
Comment by Julie Moffatt, posted 10/30/2013, 9:54 AM:

what happened to the good old days whe kids met friends out side for a game of hide and seek or baseball or just hanging out and being social, going to girl guides ect I dont think it is really necessary for a child to have face book . all the time is spent on cell phones and face book makes a child lazy, and thats only one thing, technologiy is going to ruin this world
Comment by Marc, posted 10/22/2013, 11:37 AM:

If anyone here did proper research on the negative psychological effects of using Facebook, you would ALL change your minds about wanting an account. I am sorry, but the advantages and disadvantages in the list are absurd. Decreased social skills, influence by the mass media, increased addictive behaviour, anxiety, dependency, laziness and depression are just a small portion of the bad effects of using Facebook. The sad part is that these tend to be unnoticeable by the person being affected.
Comment by William, posted 1/16/2013, 2:51 PM:

I have a facebook and I'm 12 I think we should have them they are good for children.
Comment by Abbie, posted 1/8/2013, 2:12 AM:

I am one of the 10 people from my year group (46 12-and-13-year-olds) without Facebook. I am working on a list of cons and pros for my parents for Facebook, so they will allow me to have an account. I am thirteen, five months and one of my best friends have just moved to the other side of our country. I do agree with some if the cons (addiction, security, hackers, etc.) but some of these problems can be avoided (as far as I know). Good luck to those seeking permission for an account :)
Comment by Livy, posted 10/19/2012, 3:35 PM:

I think that some children can get it, they need to be mature though. They have to understand that this website is meant for people 13 , Also, Katherine, ask her why she doesn't want you to have one. If she says her opinion, your going to need to respect her opinion. This was a great source for my Research Report, Thanks!
Comment by Spencer, posted 9/7/2012, 8:42 AM:

I agree that children under the age of 18 should be allowed to use Facebook, as long as their are parental controls. Facebook is a prevalent piece of media technology in our world, today. Youths under the age of 18 should be allowed to take part in it, as long as their are parental controls. Their parents should have regular access to their accounts, and be able to set up strict privacy options.
B also helps people overcome social anxiety and be healthier by expressing themselves online. Anything’s possible in FB, people can express their opinions, ideas and interests here which makes it very popular. Next, I’d like to point out that billions of people are connected online. Banning underaged kids from Facebook is not only unnecessary, but it’s also unfeasible.
Comment by Nickole, posted 7/27/2012, 11:06 PM:

I'm 14 and my parents refuse to let me have a FB even though they have 1. I have friends who moved away and they don't have a phone but they do have a FB. My best friend moved away this year and i told her to keep in touch but she doesn't have a phone and i don't have a FB so i guess i'm SOL! I think FB is a useful tool if used in the way in which it was intended.
Comment by Emily, posted 7/23/2012, 1:23 PM:

I am finally allowed to get a facebook, becase today is my 13th birthday. Yeah, my parents were those mean parents that make you wait until you are actually 13. I think Facebook is a good tool and fun too. One of my friends who is 12 got her FB early, but she is mature and I don't think she is likely to be mean or talk to random strangers. I think it is kind of sad that kids can just lie about their age and sign up, they don't need parent sonsent or anything.
Comment by Nicki, posted 6/22/2012, 5:41 AM:

My parents won't let me have fb because employers might not hire me :( If i have it on the friends only settings then they shouldn't be able to see my profile anyway. The worst part about it is that my dad gets really defensive and lives on pride so even if he realises i'm right, he still won't let me. They're killing my social life ;(
Comment by ML, posted 6/20/2012, 10:56 AM:

What about the emotional repercussions of teaching children - when they're still at an age when they're learning via real-life experience what true FRIENDS are - to count "friends" and "likes" as quantifiable measures of popularity? More: http://imissyouwheniblink.com/2012/06/20/facebook-for-kids/
Comment by linda trevino , posted 6/20/2012, 9:25 AM:

hi im linda and im 16 im doing this debate about children thatshouldnt have a FB account due to predators and cyberbullying it happens to everyone so becareful what you want !! make the right choice
Comment by jimbie, posted 6/16/2012, 3:07 AM:

great ideas can u expand on them a bit more?
Comment by Jasmine starling, posted 6/4/2012, 8:13 PM:

Well I am 12 and yes I have a facebook. Ok at my school were doing a debate and I'm a pro for facebook, what are some idea to use in my speech
Comment by Nixziara, posted 5/17/2012, 9:44 AM:

Hi I think this is a really good article. I'm using this for school and the pro's and cons are really good reasons,but you should add in Random friend Requests
Comment by dejen, posted 5/17/2012, 2:13 AM:

as we all know everything has its own pros and cons .however its all about timing. What is the right time for a Facebook account? u should answer this frist? thank u
Comment by Katherine, posted 5/12/2012, 11:51 AM:

Hi I'm 11 and really want a FB account. My mom wont let me have one. All I want to do is talk to my friends who have. I have promised to ask before posting and for permission to get on. Any tips to convince my mom?
Comment by la'shay, posted 5/11/2012, 8:44 AM:

i think my child should be allowed to have a facebook. i cant tell her no when i did it.
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