The rules (Facebook)
This week our eldest daughter turned 13. High among her reasons to celebrate was the fact that she is now old enough to have a Facebook profile.
The Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities point 4, sub-point 5 states clearly,
“You will not use Facebook if you are under 13”
Of course, just because Mark Zuckerberg says she is allowed doesn’t necessarily mean that my wife and I have to agree. I realise there are strong opinions on either side of the should-we-or-shouldn’t-we debate. We have good friends who have decided against allowing their children to be on Facebook even though they’re 15, as well as others who have allowed their children to sign up ahead of their 13th birthday (all it requires is entering a false birthdate – clearly a contravention of the SRR and not something I’m encouraging!).
We concluded that social media is here to stay – at least for the remaining five years of mid-adolescence for our daughter and most likely beyond then as well.
We decided it would be best for us to teach our daughter how to navigate this new world successfully rather than just putting up a sign that says ‘keep out’. Not that there’s anything wrong with prohibition in the right circumstances. We’ve had a ‘keep out’ sign over Facebook until now (and will leave that sign in place for our younger children). There are ‘keep out’ signs over alcohol at least until they’re 18, and the ‘keep out’ signs over smoking and recreational drugs are most likely to remain for as long as we have authority to maintain it. Part of teaching our children how to navigate this world is to know where the dangers lie.
In short, we’ve decided that it is now appropriate for our daughter to start having supervised access to Facebook.
‘Supervised access’ is the key phrase. Much like what we would have done if we’d owned a swimming pool.