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I’m a Mean Facebook Mom

101 comments | April 17th, 2012

(story by Mir, from Woulda Coulda Shoulda)

We're hardly Luddites. My kids have their own computer. They have iPods. My daughter has a cell phone; my son has a Nook. We're a very tech-savvy family.

And I use Facebook, as does my husband and, I assume, my kids' dad. I have nothing against Facebook.

Still… my daughter is nearing her 14th birthday, and she still doesn't have Facebook. Because I haven't okayed it yet. Is this logical? Probably not.

It started logically enough: She wanted Facebook, and many of her friends—middle-schoolers, all—had it. But the Facebook terms of service say you have to be 13, and although people are clearly bending the rules to create underage accounts, we weren't okay with that. "You're not starting your online presence with a lie," we told her, as she moped around, muttering about how everyone else's parents were cooler than we are. (Aside: I'm sure they are.) Sorry, kid. You have to be 13, and that's that.

Her 13th birthday arrived, and now we couldn't use the Facebook TOS excuse. However, there had been some email shenanigans (she's has email for several years) that had made us uncomfortable, and so we were able, once more, to say "not yet." She wasn't happy, but she knew why were putting it off. She knew it was part of the consequences of some of her previous actions. And again, there was no Facebook for her.

Of course, when she first started begging for an account, it wasn't true that "everyone" had one. It's not even true that everyone has one now, but now all of her friends are 13 or older, so many of them do. Most of her friends are on Facebook. Very few of them have mean parents who say no, like us.

Here I'm going to put on my curmudgeon hat and tell you a bit about when I was her age. (Feel free to picture me in a rocker on the porch, waving my cane at you.) At her age, when I wanted to connect with my friends, we passed notes during school, and talked on the phone from home. Or we just… didn't. We would be apart for hours (sometimes days) at a time, and NO ONE DIED. Compare this to her life: She and her friends text each other constantly from their cell phones (and before you ask, I resisted that one, too, but finally compromised; she pays for her own texting), instant-message each other when they're on the computer, and speak on the phone very rarely. (Their thumbs are apparently faster than their mouths.) Back to when I was her age—the opportunities for communication to go sideways were few, but of course it happened. Sometimes notes were intercepted or shared with someone who should not have been allowed to see them. Once three-way calling came along, occasionally someone would call you with a third party on the line and get you to say things you most certainly would not have, had you known they were there. Stuff like that.

With my daughter and her friends, people text while frenemies hang over their shoulders, snooping. Emails get forwarded or bcc:ed places you wish they wouldn't. Social angst and drama is alive and well amongst the female teenagers, is my point. I can't save my daughter from any of it, I know. And yet… Facebook. Facebook worries me. It worries me more than the avenues for social connections which are already available to her.

Maybe it's because of the well-publicized incidents involving bullying on Facebook. Maybe it's because I see the uncouth and sometimes downright shocking behavior of supposed adults on Facebook every day, and cringe to think what a pack of young adults lacking fully-formed frontal lobes may consider social-media-appropriate behavior. Maybe I just feel like it's the last bastion of control I still sort of have over her immersion into the social media waters.

Maybe I fear the increased drama that likely can and will come from this platform that allows kids to see just about every comment everyone has ever made about them. No more "nice outfit," whispered behind your back with a mean giggle—which you may or may not hear—when the same people can easily write it on your wall, or their own walls, and suddenly people who didn't matter much in real life seem VERY important on your almighty page.

Or maybe I'm just overprotective and making excuses. That's possible, too.

Do you use Facebook? If you have kids, do you allow them to use it? Am I being mean by saying no?

(Get more Mir, here)

101 comments

  • meghann @ midgetinvasion

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Yeah, we’re mean parents too, and I’m okay with that. I don’t know at what age we’ll finally cave on this, but it’s not going to be for a long time.

    And when they DO get one, if they get one before the age of 18, you can bet that being our friend will be required, as well as random checks of their account, where they have to log in with us standing there, so we can make sure they haven’t been up to anything and just have their settings to hide it from us. Overkill? No way, the internet is a scary place, man.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I don’t know about mean, but it seems somewhat silly that she’s allowed to text up a storm and instant message, yet you won’t let her go on Facebook with the condition that she give you the password so that you can see the record of what she’s up to. With texting, the only record you get is who the texts are to and from (by phone number) however if you have her facebook password you’d have the ability to go in and see what she’s actually getting and receiving.

    My kids are on Facebook (as soon as they were old enough to not lie) and I have their passwords (more for the in terrorem effect of being able to look) but the biggest thing that we’ve required is that they have to make either Mom and Dad or two other trusted adults their friends so that we have an early warning system in case things go sideways or they are posting inappropriate things. I serve the trusted adult role for several friends’ kids and have been able to ask questions like “Did you know that your 13 year old son is taking pictures of himself shirtless in his boxers and posting them to Facebook and Twitter?”

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    • Arnebya @whatnowandwhy

      Posted on April 17, 2012

      It makes sense to me (texting/IMing vs FB) because FB is so much broader, so much more immediate. While a text can be sent to multiple people, imagine the impact of the same thing said online. It can be retracted, but it’s such a broader audience. Besides, you can actually get a record of texts.

      And everyone knows their own kid and knows what their kid can handle. For some teens, FB is a big undertaking; the social aspect so much more than they bargained for. If the child is a social wallflower, I say wait until everyone is more comfortable with it. There’s no point in allowing it, then constantly checking to make sure nothing inappropriate is going on. You want your child at that level BEFORE saying yes.

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      • Mir

        Posted on April 17, 2012

        You nailed it, Arnebya. We actually do track/check texts (not hard to do!) and the “broadcast field,” as it were, is a lot narrower. I see a lot of pressure from kids to friend everyone and participate in a lot of stuff on Facebook that I think my particular kid just may not be ready to handle.

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  • Saskia

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I do have Facebook. I got it when I was 20, I think, because I was going on a study-abroad to the States and I knew most would have it there.

    I like Facebook. I like keeping in touch with all kinds of people. But I’m glad I didn’t have it back when I was a teenager and still so worried about what other people thought.

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  • liz

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I’m with you on this. My son (10!) wants email, and I’m not ready for that yet.

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  • Heather P

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Im with you 100%. My oldest is only 8, so this matter hasn’t been brought up, but my kids won’t have Facebook until they are older…not sure what age, but 18 sounds good to me.:)

    I agree about the fact that there is too much that never ever goes away. I also am often blown away at what grown ups post on their pages and do not want my kids to think that garbage is okay!

    My almost 16yo stepson (who sadly lives mostly with his mother), has had facebook for several years. It is very obviously not monitored (or she really is completely crazy). He is friends with anyone who ever requested him. He posts things he shouldnt, he uses it as a way to get attention (like ‘feel sorry for me for not having a girlfriend), etc. It’s ridiculous. My husband (his dad) and I have talked to him a LOT about what is and is not appropriate, but we have no real way to control his use.

    Im very torn about even the cellphone use. At this point, my plan is to get them each a simple phone to reach me and other family members when needed and if they want to upgrade to a real phone with texting, they are most certainly paying for it themselves. I will have a home phone for them to talk to their friends on.

    Definitely a different world than I grew up in.

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  • Melissa

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    First of all, you know your daughter best and of course are completely within your rights to limit her access. But…I think I agree with Anonymous, that with Facebook you would be able to monitor more than texting. Since both my husband and I use Facebook, I would think we’d be more comfortable seeing our daughters’ activity there where they would be visible to every adult in our family (we’re all friends). Also, I would be afraid of the total rebellion where she might go get an account and keep it a secret. Of course, my oldest is 5, so what do I know?

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    • Mir

      Posted on April 17, 2012

      Let’s just say there was an attempt to have a secret email account and the consequences for that action were swift and very harsh. I am not worried about secret Facebook, given how that all went down. (And I was the mean mother who called the parents of the other kids involved, as well.) I am, however, worried about pressure to interact with kids in ways she normally wouldn’t, based upon what I’m seeing amongst her peer group. It’s complicated, obviously.

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      • Jessica

        Posted on April 17, 2012

        I work in a 5-12 grade school, and we have had MANY issues with Facebook bullying in all the grade levels 7-12. I don’t know what it is about Facebook, but the kids go on there, and I think it’s just really easy gang up on other kids without facing them down. It then is brought into school, where we have to deal with the fallout. The sad part is most of the parents have no idea what’s going on. Either they don’t know that their kids even have Facebook (or don’t check it with their own account), or they find out the kids have an account behind their backs that they can’t monitor.

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  • Randi

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Hi Mayor, can I be the deputy Mayor? Our 11 year old has been begging for a cell phone. I have a great excuse for why he can’t have one: we have no service here! He wanted an email address, so I actually found ZillaDog and thought it was the perfect solution. Guess how often he uses it? He begged for a Facebook account, and we both said “no”. We’re not allowing our children to have FB accounts for quite some time. Many of his classmates try to friend me on FB and I always reject it. I’ve seen some of the things they say about each other on there – it’s ridiculous. Technology can be great, take it from someone who LOVES it, but sometimes it’s just not needed.

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  • Katie

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Me too! My daughter just turned 13 and we lost that excuse too, but we are still saying no. Middle school girl drama is just too much to deal with (for her or me!) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I don’t want it in my house. She strugglea with anxiety and I don’t want her to lose her home as a refuge from it all. She was outraged when she couldn’t get an account on her 13th birthday and after a week or more of her begging and pleading, I told her that she could ask me again in 3 months and not before. I made it clear that that didn’t mean the answer would be yes, but if she kept bugging me it would surely be no. My thinking was that that will be about when summer starts, so she won’t be surrounded by drama at school, so if her life is relatively calm, I will probably say yes, but with time limits, no Facetiming, or whatever that option involving the webcam is called (I don’t need to worry about everyone and their brother seeing my frequently messy house or someone walking in the background in thier undies!) and possibly just for the summer. Glad to know I am not the only meanest mom out there.

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  • Megan

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I have done several lectures on Facebook (and the like) and Being a Real Grownup in the Big Bad World. The number of charming little undergrad bunnies who don’t realize that potential employers know how to google, that what goes on the internet stays on the internet, and that the persona you choose to project online might just be the only thing people know about you is staggering!

    It’s a tool, and a useful and good one, but like all tools it’s how you use it that matters. My kids have facebook accounts but they have been taught from early on to be moderately to majorly paranoid about online stuff and, so far, they’ve been clever about it. HOWEVER, they also didn’t GET on facebook until they were older than 14…

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  • Megan

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    BTW, totally amused that I got to this post by following the Facebook notification that popped up!

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  • Nelson's Mama

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I have Facebook and am pretty addicted to it.

    My girls have accounts and have for quite some time, it seems that for their age group that it’s becoming less cool. I’m friends with them and they know that I can see what they are posting and IS posted on their timelines.

    However, I’m not privy to all that’s being texted or twittered and that worries me much more than Facebook…

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    • Mom2Trplts

      Posted on April 17, 2012

      I agree with you Nelson’s Mama. My triplets each got a FB account shortly after entering middle school. Daughter #1 had her account suspended because FB didn’t recognize her school (altho the other two went to the same school?!) After a year, she got it back but lost interest. Same with Daughter #2 ~ she amassed a huge number of friends, lost interest and I doubt she even knows her password. Son loved FB because there were GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS… that too waned. I see what they write. Now that the allure of what they couldn’t get has worn off, so has their interest. Much more concerned about what they’re texting.

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  • Lucinda

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My kids are 9 and 10 and have been asking for Facebook accounts for years, mostly to play the games. They have been denied.

    I don’t really know what we will do when they hit 13. I do know that we already talk about the value of speaking face to face, taking time to yourself, and making social connections be intentional. That conversation will continue as technology is introduced into their lives. Facebook, texting, and email all have very different concerns. For Facebook, you are starting an online presence that will never go away so I think waiting makes sense until the child understands that.

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  • Sarah

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Both of my kids are on Facebook. I let my 15 year old son get an account when he was 12 and I just let my 11 year old daughter on as well. Yes, I lied to the Facebook MAN when I helped them create their accounts. The big rule was that I have the password and can check up on them any time I want. I trust my kids, but I also spy on them mercilessly and am aware of WAY more than they think I am. I’m a lucky parent, I have very cautious kids, not precocious at all. I found letting them be on Facebook took away the excitement and mystery of it all. They both hardly use it.

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    • Mir

      Posted on April 17, 2012

      Where can I order some of those cautious kids? (Actually, I have one of those. I would sooner let my 12-year-old son have Facebook, because he’s that way as well. But my daughter… well, let’s just say my concerns are valid. Heh.)

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  • Charlotte

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Like the cell phone and computer, anything my kids have, I have access to and check regularly. No, this isn’t a violation of privacy, they are minors and have very limited privacy. My son has had a FB account for a while now, I’m a “Friend” and I have his password. And when he pulls shenanigans (I’ve got my own cane and rocker..at least figuratively!) on the internet then he gets locked out of his fb account. Those same rules will apply when I decide to be ‘unmean’ and allow my daughter to have one too!

    I think if you are aware, involved, and remember that they aren’t grown-ups yet and will make some dumb decisions that they’ll need to learn from…then Chickadee will be ok with a FB account.

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  • Rebecca

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My older son (15) has Facebook and has for some time. I don’t have a problem with it, because he has to friend me, and I get full access to his account whenever I say so.

    But here’s the thing… keeping her off Facebook doesn’t keep bad things from happening. There was a group on Facebook called, “not liking *my son’s name*” when he was in middle school. Bunch of kids from his school going on Facebook to talk about how much my son sucked. I’M the one who found out about it and made sure it was deleted and responsible parties punished. Well, at least the parents who are actually raising their children to be people did punishing. Others… not so much. It happens whether the child is online or not. These things happen because kids are mean.

    Now the upside of Facebook… my son has actual relationships with our out of state family. He can look at pictures of his new baby cousins and see their videos. He can see what his adult relatives really think about real issues via status updates and comments on his statuses. It’s been good for him, seeing other peoples viewpoints and opinions, relatively uncensored (within reason).

    His account is very protected, and I keep a close watch on it. So yeah, even with the crap we’ve experienced with Facebook, I still believe the good has outweighed the bad.

    HOWEVER, Chickie is your child, and if you don’t want her to have a Facebook account, then she shouldn’t have one.

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    • Mir

      Posted on April 17, 2012

      I like you. πŸ˜‰

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    • Nil Zed

      Posted on April 17, 2012

      This is I think where I would be. With family scattered all over, FB has really connected all my siblings and cousins in a fantastic way Including some teens.

      My college aged daughters introduced me to FB when I moved overseas. Joining them in the Internet world was easier than formal letters or emails. More informative too as I wasn’t limited to what they told me. It was interesting watching their lives evolve via photos and posts. At first, Ladybug, who was over 21, seemed to post no pictures that didn’t involve red cups or too much make up or too high heels. While Strawberry girl, at 19 posted pictures of hiking and beach trips and working at Disney. Good wholesome Fun! Gradually, Ladybugs pictures concentrated on fewer friends, and a particular tall man, while her sister’s suddenly became all about the red cups. But those are fewer now, and there seems to be a distinct trend involving a guy. Lady Bug and her husband, Tallman, recently posted The Sonogram of the Grandbaby, and it was celebrated by friends and family in 8 states and 3 countries and one ship at sea.

      Someone above suggested that the parents or two other trusted adults had to be friended. I’d go further than that. All parents and step parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins of all ages who are willing to friend get must me friended. Don’t let FB become a teen girl ghetto. Fill it full of people you want to influence her, people she would rather not see her childish and petty side. True, there are various lists and settings which can block people. But if enough real world people are connecting with her via FB, it quickly becomes tedious to constantly fidget with that stuff. (or alternatively, sooner or later, some loving trusted adult will contact you about the 21st Century equivalent of seeing or hearing her behave badly downtown back when that’s where everybody went.

      Let her join FB, but let her know what you are allowing is like staying up late, or moving up from the kids table. It’s nor just another way to get in touch with her friends, it’s a portion of the world of adults she can join, so long as she acts like an adult.

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  • Kristie

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My daughters are 13 and 16 and they’ve had facebook since before they were 13. Twitter too. I had no problem allowing them to have accounts. They have so many relatives (me, their father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) on both sides that they’re facebook friends with that I have no concerns about their activity, or bullying. If something happens that I don’t catch someone else surely will and will alert me so it can be handled.

    I don’t know what the “email shenanigans” were but I think you’re being a little too strict on this one. You’ve only got four years left, it might be time to consider allowing her to explore social media, as well as other real life freedoms. I was a pretty sheltered kid and when I moved out of my parents’ house at 18 I was not very well prepared for adulthood. I can assure you that you want her to be able to make good choices on her own, and if you don’t trust her to handle herself on facebook…well…college life is going to be a rough transition.

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    • Arnebya @whatnowandwhy

      Posted on April 17, 2012

      See, that’s just it, Kristie. We don’t know what the “email shenanigans” were, but they were enough for her mom to say not yet. I love this discussion, though b/c it shows how different our parenting choices/stances can be. For instance, I disagree with Mir’s kids having their own computers. That’s my personal choice. There is one computer and one laptop, both only used in the dining room for all to see. No computers or TVs in the bedroom. One commenter below describes being out of the loop because she was denied some things in her home or how it affected her friends’ interaction with her. As parents, we can’t always do what our children want or expect or what the “cool” moms do. We have to do what works for us. I think this is about more than being sheltered; this is about her being 14 and unable to handle all that FB can throw at her (right now). Also, your comment about college life? While I understand where you’re going with it, I think it’s a bit premature. There are only four years left, but at the same time, there are four years left.

      All social media can be deleted: comments, accounts, passwords, etc. There may be no way we can legitimately see everything our children post online. But I think it behooves us to remain the parent, not the conforming friend, and go with our gut. If in six months she shows signs of being ready, revisit it.

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      • Mir

        Posted on April 17, 2012

        Kristie, I’m not saying “no,” I’m saying “not yet.” She will obviously be allowed Facebook before college! Just not feeling it right now, before high school, for various reasons. I promise there are PLENTY of places/ways in which she’s getting practice stretching her wings, and I know the time will come for this as well. But I am enjoying the conversation (both pro and con) because I know my position isn’t a popular one, and I’m open to other viewpoints.

        Arnebya, to clarify: The kids share a computer which is in the middle of the kitchen. It has parental controls and time limits and is always in view of the whole house. πŸ˜‰ I also disagree with computers in rooms at this age. Also (continuing my meaniepants legacy), the cell phone is left downstairs at night or it’s taken away for the following day.

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        • Arnebya @whatnowandwhy

          Posted on April 17, 2012

          OH. MY. GOD. Also, holy crap! I KNEW there was a reason I liked you. When my sister told me my niece, at 15, had amassed $200 worth of text message overage, all between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., I was flabbergasted because why does she have the phone at that time of night? It feels good to know that there are still parents who don’t see some things as hindering their child’s social blossoming or not wanting their kid to be the last with something or be different from the other kids. Hot damn.

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  • StephLove

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My oldest is almost 11 and I told him he could have a FB account when he turns 13, but he’s not even sure he wants one so I sense it’s not going to be a burning issue. If he gets one, he will have to be friends with me and his other mom. In other online parent-child relations, he reads and comments on my blog which only changes what I write about him a little (especially since he reads fewer than half the posts).

    I don’t think you’re mean, though.

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  • Deirdre

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Timely post, and great comments! My newly 13-yo daughter asked for a facebook account in the middle of her not-birthday party last Saturday (long story, involving home repairs that took forever right around the time of her birthday in Feb.). Her friends with accounts immediately chimed in on how wonderful it is, while her friends who are younger than 13 looked wistful. (I heart their parents for not letting them lie to get an account.) I am so torn about it. I show her fun posts frequently from pages I follow, and I know that’s part of why she wants an account, but I am also very aware of the negatives. My privacy settings are maxed out; hers would be, too, but still . . . Ugh. At least for the next six weeks I can say she just doesn’t have time, with homework and being on two softball teams.

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    • Mir

      Posted on April 17, 2012

      We’re kind of doing a “trial run” right now by letting her use Google+, which isn’t quite so coveted/popular among her peers, but allows her some interaction with her besties in a FB-like kind of way. We set up the privacy settings together, and sometimes I show her that I can see EVERYTHING on some kids’ pages because their privacy settings aren’t locked down, so she’s kind of getting the hang of the issues even now. Maybe a similar approach would work for you and yours?

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      • Meri

        Posted on April 17, 2012

        I quit FB for G+ last fall because I just couldn’t take the snark anymore. And this was among 20- and 30-something women! It felt far too much like high school to me and I just had enough.

        I’m really enjoying G+ much more. I’ve found some huge circles for various interests (scientists!) and have a few people I know in my circles. So far, the people I’m in contact with on there are much more polite.

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      • Sheila

        Posted on April 24, 2012

        Like Chickadee, my daughter is a brand-new 14. Her best bud set up a Facebook account for her one day last summer, after which she came home and asked our permission. That answer was easy: since she knew setting up the account BEFORE asking permission was wrong, but did it anyway, her impulse control was obviously not fully matured yet and as a result she was denied Facebook.

        Now, she does have Google+, and before that Google Buzz. I see enough drama on this “less socially desirable” outlet that I know FB won’t be in her near future. To sidestep that discussion, for her birthday we got her a phone. Her first ever text read “I love my parents!” and made me realize why some parents give in on these types of things before they or their children might be ready: it is NICE to be liked. For so long we denied her some of the things her peers had ready access to, and had to wear the Mean Parent Hats (which as you may know are uncomfortable and unflattering, but, like hard hats, they get the job done). But a phone! Oh- we were the Best! Parents! Ever! We were AWESOME! She couldn’t stop thanking us, even as her thumbs flew across the screen, sending out the missives she had so long been denied. It was a welcome change to the usual Woe is Me Face we’d seen too often lately. BTW, we still have a tight leash on the phone. It is checked in every night, and the contents read regularly. (She’s had it for 16 days now and sent 236 texts, mostly acronyms. Way to get your money’s worth, kid.)

        Anyway, I think most parents do want to trust their kids online, but more than that they want them to be part of the in crowd. One mom told me once, when our kids were around 11 (eleven!) that I would “stunt (my child) socially” if I didn’t let her have access to a phone, IM, etc. If stunting her socially shields her from some of the stuff I see her friends doing online (when I check and read her email, her friends’ FB accounts, etc.), then I’ll stunt away.

        Sure, it would be nice to not always be The Mean Parent, but I want to protect my kid more than I want to be liked by her at this stage in her life.

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  • Aranda

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I have 4 children (21,19,13 and 12) and there was no set age to when I allowed access to Facebook. Both boys got their account between 15-16. I believe my 13 year old will get one around the same age. I like the ability to see what is going on in their circle of friends and it allows me a glimpse into what they are doing when they are out with their friends. I have passwords and am their friend. I completely understand parents who allow access earlier, but for me I’m uncomfortable with it. I also worry about it making them less social in real life at a young age.

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  • ale

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I don’t think having a kids password is enough on facebook. They can change it and lock you out. They can set limits on their account to monitor what each friend sees. I often, as an adult, do that myself! I can control which pictures, posts, etc. certain people see and hide what I want from them. Having a ‘safe adult’ to monitor would not be enough. I agree with Mir. 14 is NOT old enough!! :/ As I monitor facebook trends… I am beginning to think 30 isn’t old enough either!

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  • Cheryl

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    This is the age where kids are spreading their wings. And yes, the internet has its negative aspects, but it is also an amazing tool. I also come from the perspective of someone who was sheltered by her parents – for example there wasn’t a television in our home until I was 14 and going to a movie was not an option – and being sheltered was detrimental for me. It caused me to be out of the loop and unable to communicate with my peers about things that were going on in the popular culture (The Day After was a huge deal and I completely missed it). It’s really hard to be the person who has no clue what everyone else is talking about, and it affected how my peers interacted with me.

    Based upon my experience of how not being connected into the things that my peers were interested in, I will allow my sons to register for Facebook when they turn 13. Internet safety is extremely important, and I will require that they give me their passwords, etc., but I would rather that my children be able to be involved in the same things that their classmates are.

    Additionally, what are the chances that if your daughter is not given permission to sign up, that she will sign up anyway? Granting permission and requiring that she friend you/provide you with her password is a lot easier to monitor than if she chooses to sneak online without your knowledge. I’m not saying that she would do that, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.

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  • Katy

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My sister, who just turned 14, doesn’t have a facebook either. She was born after the Last Move, so all of her friends live in the same town. Once she goes away from home for any extended period of time, though, I imagine she might re-consider. Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with people long-distance. I think the photos and the little bits of less-important news really enhance what you hear directly from friends, and let you be involved in each others lives more deeply.

    So I guess I’d say Facebook has advantages that texting, etc. don’t provide for. If Chickadee has long-distance friends, from summer camp or wherever, then that aspect is definitely worth considering. It’s less important for “daily life” friends, but I would ask her what they use Facebook for. Are there conversations or invitations that she is missing out on? (Once you’re in high school, Facebook really might be a legitamate tool for “important” interactions.) Or is it more just a friend-count competition?

    That might help determine if the online environment within her circle of friends is a healthy, productive one. Because I do think it comes down to who you are interacting with. The horror stories about bad experiences on Facebook are, of course, very sad. And it’s important to monitor the affect of online interactions. However, I think that the same thing can be said for any peer relationships. Don’t let the technilogical aspect of it color your decision too much. You know your child, and you know (to some degree) their friends. Will they be respectful and responsible, and are they mature enough to resolve any conflicts that arise?

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  • Stacy

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My husband and I have facebook and his 2 kids (11 and 14) have facebook too. I refused to friend them because I don’t want them to see what I post. Not that I post bad stuff, but I’m an adult and they aren’t. My BFF allowed her children to have facebook, but she knows their passwords and checks on them, which is how she found out her teenage daughter had tried pot (and now they know she has their passwords). You have to do what’s right for you and your family, even if your daughter hates you (I’m pretty sure she’ll grow out of that).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My nieces all have FB – and are pretty active on their accounts. They’re 19, 18, and 17. At times, they’re pretty well behaved and well mannered kids – but recently, the 19 year old caused all kinds of family drama when she threw a very public hissy fit on FB when she couldn’t come home for Easter break and her sister got engaged (Long story). She posted all kinds of things that she didn’t realize were going to be public and searchable by people she wants a job from, wants to intern for, or people who review her ‘life history’ when she applies to grad school.

    Age is important when it comes to figuring out if you’re old enough for Facebook – but maturity is MUCH more important!!!

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  • Arnebya @whatnowandwhy

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Yes, I have Facebook. Yes, I have children, and no, they are not of age to use it. My oldest daughter is 11. She’s asked (a cousin and a few friends to have pages) and we’ve said no. And no, you are by no means mean for saying no. You have legitimate reasons for continuing to say no and honestly, I’m sure you’d much rather be the mean mom than the mom of a teen who isn’t ready to deal with all that Facebook is and can be and who decides to show her ass, literally, online (not that Chickie would do that).

    We are a very music oriented family, so for Christmas we bought my oldest daughter an iPod Touch and her sister a nano. The iPod Touch comes with unlimited texting but no phone capability. She is still pining for a phone, though, which we continue to say no to. She is one of a handful in her entire grade who don’t have a phone. Sorry, but I’m not falling for the mean mommy guilt. There is no reason for her to have a phone. She is dropped off and picked up from school and never without an adult where she’d need the use of a phone. We have to make our decisions and stick by them, Mir, as I’m sure you know (regardless of how uncool it makes us appear to our kids). We do still know best.

    Facebook frightens me. Some of the things adults say and do and put out there for all 863 followers that of course they know personally are beyond ill conceived. I see friends’ teens cursing, name calling, talking about the weed they smoked, the drink they had. Is no one teaching them what is appropriate? Is no one telling them that their online persona will follow them, that perspective employers will see these things and think twice? Is that not as important as being online is? The immediacy of it all scares me. Can’t you wait to tell her that tomorrow as opposed to texting her right now, typing on her wall right now, IMing her right now? There is constant access between email, text, IM, FB, Twitter, Instagram, whatever else. Teens are always on; when do they unwind? When do they stop thinking about the next funny status update? And the venting. Good God they talk about their parents and their awful, less fortunate lives. I could go on and on but all anything I’ve said comes down to is: you are the parent. You know what’s best right now and right it’s to not have a FB account.

    Parent: 1
    Naysayers and mean mommy name callers: 0

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    • Susie

      Posted on April 17, 2012

      Can I be this kind of mum when my wee one grows up? I think I shall. I had a “mean mom”, and it was a good thing. Good for you, Mir.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    OMG, you’re the meanest Mom ever!!11!!. Now Chicadee is going to end up an old maid. You’ll be sorry when she’s seventeen and still not married.

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  • Rita

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My 13 y.o. daughter does have facebook and email. No phone though, so texting is not an issue. When I set up these accounts it was with an explicit statement that she had no expectation of privacy. I have full access to both accounts and if anything untoward is happening either by her, or to her, those accounts will be deleted. She doesn’t use either form of social media very much though, so she’s been easy to regulate. I suspect her younger sister to be a different story though. Thankfully she’s only 10. By the time she hits 13 I’m sure we’ll have a different facebook equivalent to deal with.

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  • Mary Fran

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    First of all, you have every right as a parent to set the limits of social media, especially given the e-mail shenanigans. Just as a bunch of parents let their 8 years olds read Hunger Games and then were shocked at the violence of the movie (since they never read the books), a lot of parents don’t educate their kids on the permanence of social media. Just look at all the deleted tweets that were entered into evidence at the Rutgers trial! 13 year olds are not old enough to care about college or job interviews. They don’t think pictures of themselves in bikinis and uggs are inappropriate. The parents need to educate, and model, proper online behavior. And, they need to log in as their child, often! Just “friending” them does nothing, your child can block you from seeing what they post.

    My oldest is 11, turning 12. He’s just starting to ask for a phone – which will probably happen soon as we live in a free-range town and he’ll be running around on his own soon.

    Good luck!

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  • Kim

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My son is 22, does not have Facebook and says he never will. Must be a guy thing, ecause none of the men in my family have it. My daughter got her Facebook account around 16. I wasn’t a “friend”, but my sisters-in-law, aunt and cousin were all friends, so she knew that I knew what she would be up to. I do have to say, once she turned 18 and friended me, she has pretty much the most boring FB account ever. Neither of my kids had cell phones until they were old enough to pay for themselves. My daughter had a tracfone when she turned 17 that she was rarely able to refill. My son got his cell after he turned 18 and was able to enter a contract on his own. I think I would be more worried about the constant distraction of a cell than FB because its harder to monitor what is being said and what is going on. At 14 I would insist on being a FB “friend” to my child. I think the fact that she hasn’t lied and and just gone on there and gotten an account anyway says alot about Chickie’s integrity. You are doing a great job!

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  • mamalang

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I am one of those bad parents that let her 12 year old have a Facebook account. And say whatever you want about me because of it, and I’m fine with it. I know my daughter, and we had very strict usage guidelines. At almost 14, she is very active on there, even administering several Harry Potter fan groups. I have complete access to her accounts, and her 18 year old sister is part of those same fan groups with her. We have a family member that worked with our state police and have told them the internet horror stories, and we’ve discussed them in our household, and they completely get that the person on the other end may not be who they represent they are.

    All that to say, I see this as a tool. In all honesty, kids can create these accounts without our approval, and I would rather know what she is doing online than take the chance that she’s doing it without my knowledge. She has earned my trust by not being afraid to delete and/or call out her friends when they have posted mildly inappropriate things on her page, and I’ve made sure to commend her on it. Her confirmation and youth group through church also have private pages that the kids can share through, and I see great conversations and support there.

    Good luck. Today’s teens have so many more opportunities, both good and bad, and parenting them is getting more difficult every day.

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    • Mir

      Posted on April 17, 2012

      Eh, I wouldn’t say anything about you. Everyone has to make their best choices for their family, and while it was important to us not to buck the age requirement, I wouldn’t judge someone else for doing it. (Chances are excellent that your 12-year-old is more mature than my 14-year-old!)

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      • mamalang

        Posted on April 18, 2012

        It’s funny, because sometimes I swear mine and yours were separated at birth. They seem to run through the same cycles together, even though mine is 6 months younger than your chickie. And in some ways, she is awesomely mature, almost too mature, and in others, not so much. :)

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  • Amy

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I too grew up before the internet was really a thing (you’re not that old you know!). I passed notes and talked on the phone. And now I have facebook…and honestly, I use it more to keep up with businesses/farms/blogs/ etc than I use it to keep up with friends. However, my cousin, who is probably 15 or 16 has FB and I’ve seen people bully her on there and it’s actually kind of scary to me…the things kids say to each other now. For instance she’s had other girls suggest she kill herself because she is so ugly.

    I don’t think you’re sheltering Chickie. I think you’re protecting her from as much nastiness as you can. And that’s what a parent is supposed to do in my opinion. Someday, she’ll have a FB account and what will start off as cool will become the bane of her existence. But for now, you just keep being the mean mom. Someday, in the far off future, she’ll thank you. I promise.

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  • Holly

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Facebook is funky! I don’t blame you one iota for keeping her off of it.

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  • Ani

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My son, almost 12, is not on Facebook. He’s asked a couple of times, but really wanted to play the games on it, so we got the games separately and it has not been an issue. I show them posts from his relatives or my friends from time to time, and he reads, laughs, and moves on. So personally, the key question is…what is it they want to do on Facebook? More than any particular age.

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  • Kim W.

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I let my son start a Facebook account when he was 11 (he wanted to play a game online — I caved in). And then I hung over his shoulder, logged-in as him, looked at his friend requests…

    He’s 12 and in 7th grade now.

    He’s lost interest in Facebook (the game bored him eventually), and I am hoping that he doesn’t become interested again any time soon. His friends (some of them from elementary school that are now sophomores in high school) post offensive, obnoxious, discriminating, and immature comments and photos that are — frankly — shocking. The boys’ comments to the girls — makes me sick to my stomach.

    I KNOW that some of these kids would never say these things in front of me, but there they are broadcasting these things to the world. It’s hard to still like those (still-to-me) little kids.

    I recently decided to make my own statement about Facebook — I deleted my account. I found that most of the time, I just felt miserable — like I was searching for something and not getting it. I am much happier now. I use email for communications, I post comments on blogs. I have more control over what I see and how I communicate.

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  • Bob

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Only you know your child well enough to know if she can handle – and be trusted to handle correctly – a facebook account. YOU are on facebook so you know it and you know your daughter. Don’t over think the “OMG, what if she….. or what if someone does….to her”: it might happen, but then it might not. Statistically speaking, I expect most facebook interactions among teens are in line with what happens in real life.

    discuss with someone you trust (read: husband) to get a leveling influence on your ?paranoia!!? and decide if this is something your daughter can handle.

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  • Becky

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Kids on Facebook just makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I’m so grateful that I was part of the last group who couldn’t get an account without a college e-mail address. My little cousins have accounts now, and of course, friended me. Everything was fine and dandy up until one cousin (she’s around fifteen now) left herself logged in on a friend’s phone. Said friend immediately pretended to be her and posted many things of a sexual nature. It was so horrific and public. I can’t wrap my mind around enduring something like that. She ended up writing a wall post and laughing it off, but ugh. Being a teenager is hard enough without Facebook.

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  • Cindy

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I don’t do facebook personally but that is just because I think it would be a massive time suck for me. I do lurk about on my boyfriend’s account occasionally but that’s mostly to either keep an eye on my kid or satisfy a curiosity about some family member/old friend I don’t otherwise keep in touch with.

    My youngest son is on facebook but only after he prepared a presentation to me about the dangers of the internets and facebook in particular. I also can demand access to his account at any time. He got a phone this year and the same rules go for texting. (it’s public, zero expectation of privacy, put nothing on there you wouldn’t mind on a billboard)

    And? If he were a girl with the associated increase in drama (as only the mama of grown girls can attest), I don’t know that the same privileges would be allowed at the same ages. I don’t think you are wrong at all….sounds like to me that you are keeping a careful eye and making decisions based on where your particular kid is at and what they need/can handle rather than a cookie cutter approach. If that’s the queen of mean, crown you royalty.

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  • crazyjane

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My 13 & 15 yr old boys have FB. I have their passwords and I go on and poke around frequently. Also they must friend myself & my husband. And I still wish we’d never started. It’s so easy to say something nasty when it’s so removed from ‘reality’. And they do, they all do. I always find some comment or thread that appalls me. Not always from my own kids, but sometimes. I delete a lot of stuff, but the DRAMA! can’t be deleted. It’s already there. That said, I often find messages where my oldest has told someone to text him instead because his mom reads his FB messages. There’s no winning.

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    • Mir

      Posted on April 17, 2012

      HA that’s so true (about no winning). I have access to her email and texts and instant messages — all of which she is aware I will look at whenever it suits me — and still there are, of course, ways around all of that if they really want.

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  • Lisa

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Both of my children have FB. My 19 year old son is guilty of posting more questionable things and “stupid” stuff. My 13 year old daughter’s account is fine and she handles it well. Both kids are required to give me passwords and I am their friend on FB. The daughter isn’t allowed to answer friend requests until approved by me. I know among her peer group sometimes feelings get hurt about not being invited or included but that can happen with or without FB. I think it all boils down to how your child handles situations and only you can answer if she is ready. I work for a community college and I will tell you that we check potential employee pages and students pages that have applied for certain honors/achievements. It is scary the things kids today will post without understanding it is accessible to everyone. Good luck on your decision.

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  • Billie

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I have so much to say about this. Let’s just say that I let my son get his Facebook account last summer after just turning 11. He has officially lost Facebook for the rest of his life if I have anything to say about it! In the last 5 months alone my son’s personality has went from this wonderful, caring boy, talked back some, was afraid to lie, cared about what his parents/teachers thought of him, A & B honor roll etc. to this crazy hellion that I don’t know what to do with half the time. How do you scare the crap out of someone that just doesn’t care anymore? He got in with a group of friends on Facebook. Kids that he went to school with but would have never have hung out with in the normal course of a day. Since then he has been talking about sex with girls, listening to crazy music, and worst of all, he cut himself (it happened only once because the consequences on that were so swift and I threatened to lock him up in the crazy bin for the rest of his life). I’m working to get my sweet kid back but I fear that 1) it’s going to take longer to get him back to how he was then it did for him to go bad and 2) I don’t know if he will ever get back to being as sweet and caring as he used to be.

    Mir, I completely agree with you. I think that even when you have a kid that you think could never go/do wrong, it’s too much. It’s too much peer pressure, it’s too much exposure to things they shouldn’t even have to think about at that age, and it’s too much opportunity for others to take advantage of or bully.

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  • Liz

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My son turned 13 in January. His older sisters have a Facebook and has seen the shenanigans they’ve had to deal with. My 10 year-old was grounded/punished for 2 weeks for shenanigans she got herself involved with at a sleepover and may NEVER get a Facebook. Morale of the Story: My son does not want a Facebook. Hang tight [fist bump] and welcome to Meanville!

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  • Lindsey

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Oh lovely Mir, I totally get that you want to protect young Chickadee from the Facebook. My son had it prior to turning 13. He was away at his cousins, and they created one. Without my knowledge. He will be 14 this year, and he hasn’t been bullied. I think he has figured out who should be his friend, and who shouldn’t. And he’s a boy.
    UNFORTUNATELY… Girls are different. Girls gossip. Girls are catty. Girls can be MEAN.
    It’s a tough line to take. My opinion…for what it is worth… is to let her have a facebook profile. Make it as private as possible. And let her know that she can rise above typical girl behavior.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    my kids are still young so maybe the shoe will be on the foot in a few years, but here are my thoughts on the issue. Teenagers get into all sort of trouble (both big and small) and often we, the parents, don’t know about it until it has blown up. My theory is that kids are afraid to tell parents they are into something bad/dangerous/etc for fear of punishment. And, being hormonal teenagers, they are not always good judges of their own circumstance. I like the idea of a trusted adult as someone the kids can always come to with the expectation of privacy when they are in trouble/worried about being in trouble/etc. and that person can help/guide them and when necessary counsel them to speak with the parents. I think that’s good even outside of e-socializing. In fact, with FB and other social media, it’s even easier to have that arrangement and the trusted adult can just monitor the communication and speak with the teenager when appropriate. A daughter of a friend “friended” me probably because she was just looking to rack up friends (lol) and I think she forgot by now that she did so. I see a lot of stuff that I am sure her parents don’t. And some of it would probably get her in trouble if her parents knew but all of it so far has been very typical high school conversations about partying, flirting, etc. (no bullying). If I saw something really inappropriate happening I’d of course speak with her. Teenagers need some space to rebel and get into (harmless) trouble as part of the growing up process. The fact that it’s now taking place in cyberworld is just a new reality. So part of their growing up has to include learning how to deal with social media/privacy issues/etc. (and part of our job is to teach them).

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  • The Other Leanne

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Good for you, Mir. “Everybody else is doing it” has been given as a reason since 1920. If she has ever been subjected to bullying or nasty behavior (and we know she has), then it would be opening a can of uglier worms to be on FB.
    Dear Chickie, FB is so last year. Your friends who are on it? Lame sheep they are, but they want you to think they are oh-so-special and having a grand time saying important things like “Just ate dinner” and posting 100 pictures of their cats sleeping. Smart, happy, trendsetting people choose Google+. Tell them that’s where you hang and watch their mouths drop open.

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  • Jen

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    A few months ago I had my then 10 year old son convinced that the minimum age for Facebook was 21. He knows the real age now (dang), but he’s still not getting on FB unless I ok it. And I don’t think he’s mature enough for anything past emailing family, and don’t see that changing in the next two years.
    Yup. Mean mom. I want a t-shirt.

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  • Heather

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Facebook, one of the banes of my existence. I have a “fake” account with a pet’s name as my first name and friends in the single digits. I never post myself and only signed up so that I could see pictures (babies and house building). Anyway, I am pregnant with my first and dreading the day I have to make social media decisions with my child. As a former school counseling intern, definitely know your own child and his/her limits. Not just the drama, but also the time suck — I remember meeting with a couple of students whose grades were plummeting and finding out the computer time their parents thought was doing homework was actually spent on Facebook chat or Farmville.

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  • Linda Sherwood

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I have four kids ages 17, 16, 14 and 13. The three oldest are girls. All four have facebook accounts, cell phones and laptops.

    Of all of their friends, I am the “meanest” mom.

    Laptops are not allowed in their rooms except under unusual circumstances (sometimes I allow it during the day to let them watch a movie when all of the earphones in our house seem to be missing and/or broken).

    Cell phones have unlimited texting. They are also required to be charging in a designated spot (ours is on our dryer) after 9 p.m. on school nights. I do let them keep their phones on weekends unless there is a reason they need to get up early the next day. I take cell phones away more frequently during vacations.

    For Facebook, or any social media, my children must be my friend. I frequently monitor their posts and have been known to make them delete posts. The biggest thing I make them delete are song lyrics that I find inappropriate. I also watch what the “like.” If it is an inappropriate name, they have to unlike it.

    All electronic communication is subject to parental inspection at any time. If I ask to look at texts and am refused, the child loses their phone. If I ask to look at a computer (I check history and passwords), I better get access or the child loses access. Any attempts to delete or cover up before giving me access also results in a loss of said electronics.

    Our wireless internet access is password protected, and I have been known to change the password to prevent access. I’ve also taken my entire internet hub with me when going somewhere to prevent my kids from getting online when I’m not there to monitor it.

    My kids were just talking last night about how I am the only parent they know that checks their kids’ phones. I am also one of the only ones that make phones be put up at night. That doesn’t bother me.

    When my oldest was 14, she was friends with older computer nerds who were actively trying to help her find ways around the restrictions I had placed on our computers. Parents need to know how to use electronics before they let their kids use them.

    I also realized that I need to carefully read the capabilities of what I buy my kids. I was shocked to find out that an iPod Touch could go online. Kindles can also go online. More and more things seem to have this ability, so it helps to have a password on our home’s wireless to keep things from connecting that I don’t want to connect.

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  • KSM

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    We got the internet when I was in 8th grade, and I was probably on AOL IMing by 9th grade – I am in the first group of kids where that became the norm – so I can’t remember a time where I didn’t communicate with my friends through the internet. The internet is definitely a scary place, and you have to be comfortable with your kid and how your kid will react to situations on the internet. However, I will say, based on my own experience, that girls will be mean whether it be on the phone, in an IM, through a text, or right to your face. Having access to the internet didn’t seem to change much in that regard, but it does seem to lessen once you are out of middle school. At the end of the day, you have to do what is right for you. If she is already able to text and chat with her friends, that will suffice for the moment. I totally get that she wants to have facebook because her friends want to have it, but they’ll still be on there in a few months or a year whenever she has access to it. Personally, I find facebook to be best for keeping in touch with people far away – I rarely interact with my friends that live near me on facebook. Good luck!

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  • Kim T

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I guess I’m in the minority here, but I grew up with overprotective parents, although they’d seem pretty standard by today’s mindset and I find myself not wanting to do that with my kids. I found ways to do everything they didn’t want me to do and to this day I’ve never been caught. I do think my relationship with my mom was irrevocably harmed, because we were never able to be really honest with each other. I’m 40 now and have a 12 year old and 9 year old. My 12 year old is not on Facebook, but she does go just about everywhere else on the internet. She also has “secret” email accounts, although we’ve figured out what they all are. I’ve found with her, is the more I forbid something, the more she does it with or without my knowledge. I do think this is limited to my daughter’s particular personality. My younger daughter has no interest in any of these things and generally avoids the drama as much as possible. I do think my older daughter, being prone to drama and shenanigans would find a way to have drama and shenanigans with or without the computer. I feel like the best I can do is keep the computer in a public place, watch over her shoulder, have passwords etc. We also talk constantly about consequences for actions and the fact that nothing ever goes away on the internet. Helps that my husband is a computer programmer and can explain some of these things from a more technical perspective. He also has set up time limits on the router and such. Anyway, long story short, I think Facebook is a tool. I think it’s better for kids to have reasonable access to some of these things when they’re still young enough to monitor. I’d rather they make some mistakes and learn from them within the safety of my home. Rather than go wild when let loose in the world at age 18 (speaking from my own experience here). In the end, you know your own kid best and what works for you and your family is right for you and your family.

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  • Brandy

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My almost 17 year old Daughter is still not allowed on Facebook. We, like you, had a few computer related issues with email and chat rooms that have made it necessary to limit her computer access. She does have a cell phone, but we’ve only just added texting back on since the first time she had is there was an explosion of texts in a weekend (over 100 in 2 days!). When my Daughter can prove to me she can be trusted online, then we’ll talk about Facebook.

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  • Jeanne

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I think there should be a training course for those of us who are not instinctively good at this parenting thing. It should be called “Be Like Mir: 10 Easy Steps to Becoming the Mean Mom Your Children Love and Need”.

    I desperately need that course. It’s probably too late for my 20 year old daughter. But I really do not want to make the same mistakes with my young boy.

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  • Karishma

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Quite honestly, I think part of the reason to be on facebook is that everyone posts pictures and you need to know if you’re in them. Your friends easily could post pictures of you that you are completely unaware of, and you NEED to know what’s out there. That’s why I’m obsessive about tagging pictures so that everything can be tracked by whoever is in it. Even if I stop using facebook, I will never fully deactivate it for precisely this reason.

    I think the key is that there’s a difference between “stupid” and “inappropriate” and parents have to decide what their child is most likely to do and decide accordingly. The former is rarely a problem beyond the obligatory eyeroll, the latter can be. So it’s just one of those things…. a goody two shoes kid would probably be just find on facebook at 13, a kid who’s making inappropriate posts probably needs more monitoring…. I’ve always been wary of the whole “I must have your passwords and do random checks” mentality that so many parents seem to have. I swear, it was not necessary for me!! My parents have always been so careful of never invading my privacy or checking anything, and I *never* once took advantage of that or did anything truly inappropriate… maybe I was the exception and I’ll have to completely change my stance for my future children πŸ˜‰

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  • Rachel

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My head is spinning from reading the comments…. and I’m so glad my oldest is only 7, though I know these decisions are coming. We’ve been toying with the idea of setting him up with an email account so that he can email our family members who are stateside. (We moved to Italy last summer, courtesy of the US Army!) Mostly, that would involve aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Still, though… I don’t know that I want to open that particular can of worms yet.

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    • mamalang

      Posted on April 18, 2012

      When my husband was deployed, we set up an AKO account for our younger kids. Those filters are killer unlike gmail or yahoo or hotmail. Something you might want to look into.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My kids are getting perilously close to the age that I’ll be making the Facebook decision, and the plan at this point is to allow an account at 13+. Not even a conversation before then (seriously, start their internet presence lying about their age? People!??) Then there will not be any of this “I’ll have access to your password” stuff. I will be the ONLY one with the password, I shall do the logging on, with my daughter not present, then will let her be on the page with me hovering aimlessly in the kitchen area with potential over shoulder gawking at any time. I will make many annoying tsk tsk sounds, and in the inevitable event of her getting the password, I will ground her promptly from being on the page until she is okay with the former arrangement. I don’t care two figs if she thinks it is mean. 88% of what I do to parent my kids is deemed “mean” at any given moment. I am totally ok with that.

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  • margaret

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    It’s so easy for me to have an opinion on these difficult issues because I don’t have any children for whom I am THE DECIDER. I have had friends figure out that their kids have duplicate facebook accounts. This was before the “customizable” features that can loop parents out.

    I will echo the fact that you are the one who knows YOUR daughter best and which aspects of social media are likely to be more troublesome for her. It is clear from other things you have written that you are not keeping her hidden from the universe in a global way.

    I think that “not yet” is a perfectly reasonable answer to just about anything. No harm in waiting just a bit longer to make sure she is ready. I do like hearing what other parents have done, and perhaps they will be helpful when “yet” gets here.

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  • Brigitte

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Mine is only seven, so for now, I’ll just cover my ears and go “La la la la!”

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  • Katie

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I have a 16-year-old daughter; she has had FB for 2 years. I am her friend (as are her aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins…) and I do have her password.

    She, like Monkey, tends to be cautious and we haven’t had problems with any of her FB interactions. I can understand, given Chickie’s history, why you are restricting FB. I did want to point out, though, that members of my daughter’s sports teams, various study groups, and school clubs really do use FB to communicate. (Several girls on her team had to get FB just so that they would not miss important communications about practices and such.) Not sure if that is/will be an issue for you. Just something to keep in mind, I guess.

    Good luck with all of this! It’s not easy having a teenage daughter (but it is always interesting)!

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  • Kendra

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    This is uncharted territory here for us–but I’m totally in your court. We are also raising NO FB children–unless of course I have to log in and completely invade their privacy every time they want to use it…

    I wish I had a good idea as to when to let them start using FB…I say 18. :) Yeah, I’m sticking with that–when they’re old enough to buy a pack of smokes and some scratch tickets, they can use FB. :)

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  • Laura

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    well, if you are mean then I am the worst. ever. I made my son wait until he was 16, and even then he had to friend me and give me his password. And he’s not even the kid that worries me!!! The 12 year old girl has started her campaign, and I am thinking of upping the age restriction to 21. Or 30. Or never.

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  • Pam

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I did not read through all of the comments so some of this may be repetative however, I am the mother of three children. The youngest a 17 year old daughter. My boys are grown and have moved out. I remember being a teenager and honestly, I was a blender…meaning I wasn’t popular or unpopular so I was able to avoid a lot of teenage drama. My daughter is popular AND she has a short fuse. It has taken quite a few missteps (of hers) to realize the damage that texting or facebook postings can create. Technology takes away the ability to pause. Most of my daughters friends have friend requested me, and I accept them all but never respond. I do it to see what is going on. One of her friends constantly posts photos of herself in provocative photos. It has gotten so bad that my daughter “unfriended” her. I now wonder where this young ladies Mom is during all of this?!

    The allure has worn off and my daughter is not actually on Facebook any longer – by her own choosing. I see absolutely nothing wrong with not allowing her to have a facebook account.

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  • bryan

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My kids, 8 & 11, both have G+ for the games. I have both of the email accounts. I’m also prone to skooching them off of the computer so I can see what they’re looking at. I do it ninja style as well. Mostly they email me, my sister & their dad. Unless we have credibility issues, I’ll probably enable Facebook for them at 13.

    They don’t have phones, though. I’m not paying for them to have a phone while I have the cheapest one that I can find. (“Mom, I really want an iPhone.” “So do I!”)

    I’m always interested in where the line gets drawn for different people. And remember. . .different choices are not wrong choices. They’re just different.

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  • Zudie

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    9, 10 & 12 here without computer and without email or Facebook. Most important reason: I’m already busy enough without having to check what they do online. And I do know that I would have to check daily. The very few times I allowed them on my computer I did not like what they had been searching for.
    10 & 12 have cheap cell phones but are currently without them since that is the first punishment for bad behavior. I do check their phones, but wonder if your kids don’t know how to delete text messages because I think our do.

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  • Navhelowife

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    Whatever you decide will be the best for your family.
    My two older sons have FB. The oldest one has been shown the privacy issues, is fully aware that I look at his page ALL THE TIME and he is 17. It’s a good way for him to keep in touch with friends who are far away. It was a lifeline for him when we first moved here and he knew no.one. – it let him keep his sanity.
    Middle child has it, but doesn’t have a ton of activity on it. We have a fairly strict rule that you must know the people in real life, and no one unrelated over the age of 18.
    We made them wait till 13 or 14. I think it was closer to 14.
    But every familly and every child is different.

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  • Caz

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I think I (at 26) am one of the last generation who are more internet savvy then their parents. I had email for years before my Mom and Dad did… sure we got up to some maybe slightly unsavory things in aol chat rooms, ICQ (remember that!) and MSN messenger with friends -but a lot of the craziness wasn’t even available then…

    Not sure how I am going to approach it with my kids (in 20 years) but it will be different than my own experience that is for sure!

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  • Tara

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    We (me, DH and DD who is almost 14) are all on FB. DD signed up a few months before she was 13. We check her page regularly (as her – we have her password). We set strict rules – no friending anyone you don’t know personally, no adult males unless they are related to you, no posting anything that you don’t want your parents/boss/pastor/kids to read. She has never made me regret it. Do what you think is best though. No one knows your kid like you do. Does she generally exhibit good sense (with only occasional teenaged lunacy thrown in here and there)? Something to think about: Facebook is a privilege which can be used as leverage. Back talk much? Give the silent treatment? Act ungrateful? You lose the facebook account. Just saying…

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  • Suzie

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    I agree with one of the above commenters that Facebook is becoming ess “cool”. Does chickie have a tumblr? Because that seems to be the current craze.

    My girls are almost -14 and almost-16. They’ve had Facebook since they each turned 13. They got to choose – give me their passwords or be my friend. My older daughter chose to be my friend. My younger daughter did oth without realizing the overkill until this past month. I’m not sure either of them realize how much monitoring I can do once they leave for school …

    My younger daughter (14 next month) is really rarely on FB. Cnsidering that, I’m glad I didnt make this a sticking point between us. Sure, there are lots of horror stories, but they are the minority of stories.

    My older daughter, when she was younger (I.e., 13), required a little more monitoring. But now, she’s never on, either, except to chat.

    I think it CAN be a dangerous, big deal. But like with other things, we can monitor, and we can teach.

    I don’t think you’re mean. At all. But I do worry that you’re assigning Facebook more power than it would or could have if she were given the chance to explore & then move on at this stage.

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  • angie

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    My feelings are that unless you can control ALL access your child has to ANY computer, forbidding FB is eventually (maybe not yet, but eventually) going to mean that they create an acct without your knowledge/permission. I guess I don’t remember how old my kids were before I no longer knew all their friend’s parents and what the exact level of monitoring was at those friend’s houses, but it was definitely younger than 14. They can use computers at school, at the library, at the neighbor’s house, and mostly at their friend’s houses. Heck, they can use their friend’s smartphone on the bus ride home.

    I also didn’t force my kids to friend me (because they can still block what I see) or to give me their passwords (because they can change them). I had a rule that they simply had to log on and show me their page any time I asked. After a couple of early checks, they became further apart and more sporadic, but remained a possibility any time. My daughter voluntarily friended me when she started high school because, in her words, “I’ll be less likely to write something stupid if I know you’re reading it.” My son is at college and still hasn’t friended me :).

    All of my kids’ after-school sports and clubs organize EVERYTHING on FB. Fundraisers, practice info, meets, photos from meets, even parent volunteers and transportation, etc.. and I really do feel like they would have been the odd one out to not have access.

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  • Mandie

    Posted on April 17, 2012

    It’s just such an individual decision. I have 2 boys, ages 16 and 14, and they both got FB accounts when they were 13. However, they friend only people they actually know, and while they check FB multiple times a day, they post rarely. I’m on their friends list (which doesn’t mean much now that you can restrict who sees what) but I also have their passwords. Some folks are saying that simply having passwords is ineffective as they can change the passwords. True. However, Fate Worse Than Death will happen if they choose to change passwords without notifying us of the new one. Both have actually changed their passwords for a variety of reasons but let me know immediately. I regularly check to see what’s up. I have deleted comments exactly twice on my 16-year-old’s account.

    I do feel that while there is always teenage drama in general, there is much less boy drama than girl drama, and boys tend not to be quite so mean. At least that has been my experience with monitoring my boys’ pages.

    Certainly you’re not the only “mean” mom. My boys are horrified with me because I absolutely will not let them have a TV or computer in their rooms, and DH and I randomly check their texts. Yep.

    We all have to do what’s right for our kids. You’ll know when she’s ready :-)

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  • Von

    Posted on April 18, 2012

    I haven’t thoroughly read all of the comments, so I don’t know if I am alone here, but I don’t have Facebook. Or Twitter. It’s not because I am tech-dumb, just that I have no interest in only staying in touch with my friends through status updates or < 140 character snippets. And I would have serious concerns about privacy of my details on Facebook. Most of my friends have it, know I refuse to use it, and we still manage to stay in touch. We call, email or visit. I enjoy talking to my friends! Sometimes I will even send an actual letter through the mail. And damn, that never fails to get a reaction.

    I think you should stick to your guns, Mir. You already have the eye-rolling and teenage angst, so a bit more won't kill you. I don't think kids Chickie's age understand how "forever" things posted on the Internet are, even if they think (of course) they do.

    Three cheers for strong Mean Mommies.

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  • Victoria

    Posted on April 18, 2012

    I haven’t read all 94 comments, so I could easily be repeating: but for one thing, my father has always said, on parenting, that the one who has to ‘fix’ a problem, makes the rules. So, if your daughter made a comment, or what not, which was later regretted, you and your husband end up ‘fixing’ the problem. So, you two make the rule to begin with- to avoid the avoidable. Also, I work for lawyers, and, yes, we are in a day and age when not only are there victims of bullying, but also, there are young people getting accusations placed against them. A criminal record. Likely for something that was just typed during a moment of heated tension.

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  • diane

    Posted on April 18, 2012

    By the time I get this far down in the comments, I wonder if anyone is paying attention, but for whatever it is worth I can see both sides (helpful, I know).
    On one hand, I grew up under an extremely strict mother (not likening you to her, just explaining my p.o.v.) and I frankly think she could have loosened the reigns a bit and I would have been just fine. In fact, it’s a bit of a surprise in retrospect that I didn’t rebel further. (also? I might as well have done some of the things she was accusing me of anyway if I was going to take the blame regardless) So I’m cautious about putting limits on kids outside of things like alcohol, sex, drugs, and general crime.
    On the other hand, the idea of anyone under 18 on FB wants me to get my tubes tied so I never have to make this decision. There is a case in California right now of a missing 15 year old and a lot of discussion has gone on around how much of her private life she put out there for all the pervs and pedophiles to hungrily peruse. I am quite sure that bullying and mean behavior occurs as well, although I figure that’s a given, which even makes me think that one week on the FB and Chicky would through up her hands and say forget it, I can’t deal with this.
    I think your family is a unique case because you are dealing with so much that would make an average teenager throw up her hands with “It’s not faiiiir!!”, and frankly, it wouldn’t be so far fetched for all of you to say that. So at the end of the day, I have no answers but appreciate the thoughtful discussion.

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  • s

    Posted on April 19, 2012

    I’ll have to read through the comments at another time, but yes, I do use facebook although I find I comment and post less and less (and by no means was ever a very frequent poster even when I started). I am shocked by what folks post – there just seems to be absolutely ZERO filter. Moms post comments clearly made at the height of frustration of bickering kids or whatever – comments if their children posted would likely get the kid grounded, but since its mommy posting, its thought to be tongue in cheek hilarious and many comments saying “amen sista” and “have a glass of wine” posted in response. Honestly we need more filters back in our lives – where people REALLY think about the intent vs just trying to be witty.

    That said, I have not allowed my now old enough daughter to have an account. Yes, she has email and yes, she does have texting on her phone (although prepaid so she can’t go crazy with it – she has to police her usage herself which I find makes her more thoughtful about it – she doesn’t just text all day/all the time) but no, I haven’t let her do FB, but I’ll admit its not like this is hard for me right now as she has not asked for one – she is not interested and based on her personality, she’s a bit ostrich in the sand – if there is drama/conflict, she avoids it and although I know that isn’t going to be possible throughout her life, I’m happy to allow her to avoid petty drama as long as she can. If we all could do that, wouldn’t we all enjoy a bit more peace and happiness vs all the snarking that can occur both with teens and adults?

    I know not allowing FB is nonsensical since she can text and email. But the instantaneous nature of FB (and the fact that its OUT there, for all, forever) rattles me. With texting, I do tell my daughter all the time – don’t text anything you don’t want others seeing as you have no idea who is with the person you are texting. Same with email – you can’t control who sees that and who it is forwarded to.

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  • Katherine

    Posted on April 19, 2012

    I think I’m glad I have boys with respect to all the social media issues. My boys are 13 and 16 and both have facebook. They both had to friend me and DH. We only got FB when the older one got on at 13 1/2. He is in high school now and they really do use FB for some useful communication. He doesn’t like to call, email, text a friend looking for info, but he can post a question about a meeting or what an assignment is and get a response. I log in as my kids sometimes and just see what is going on. I have yet to see anything from my kids or their close friends that I find inappropriate. Silly, yes, but not cruel or inappropriately dressed. It helps that both kids are somewhat geeks and so are their friends.

    My 16 yo has a phone and a computer in his room. I swore I wasn’t going to allow the computer in his room, but with his homework load and the fact that he could be accessing the Internet from the iPod or a smartphone or at a friends… Well, it works for him and us, but if he abuses the privilege, it can go away. The 13 yo doesn’t have a phone, and gets along fine. He could text from his iPod if he wanted, but seems uninterested. He will occasionally chat w a friend on FB, but it’s not a big time sink. He spends far more time on minecraft and runescape.

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  • Joan

    Posted on April 19, 2012

    Your kid, your decision. You’re the one who knows what she’s ready for or not.

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