Parenting

Is your child old enough to join Facebook?

Neetu Ralhan
11 to 16 years

Created by Neetu Ralhan
Updated on Apr 11, 2017

Is your child old enough to join Facebook

Child: Mum, I want to join facebook. 

Mum: Why? 
Child: Because all my friends are there!

This was the first time Facebook invaded my otherwise ‘peaceful’ relationship with my 11 year old. What followed was a volley of arguments and cross arguments about the virtues and vices of children spending time on social networking sites.

Was raising a pre-teen ever this interesting? Well, for fellow parents who are faced with the ‘Facebook Dilemma’, here’s some information that might help you tread through this important decision.

What Parents Say: The Case For Facebook

Most of us see children from family and friends on Facebook – our own kids, nephews, nieces or friends’ children posting cute little details of their life - where they went on a weekend or a picture of their pet licking them all over. Also, their academic and extracurricular achievements now get to be appreciated on an all new platform. A big boost to the child’s self-confidence, or is it?

Here are some statements from parents, which reflect why some parents believe having their child on Facebook is no big deal.

  1. Most children have access to the internet today and I would rather have my tween spend time on Facebook than scouting the internet and being exposed to unsolicited information.
  2. Teens use Facebook to connect and share with friends, to announce achievements, wish each other on birthdays and plan social and school events. It’s simply a new means to connect.
  3. My child gets to connect with grandparents, relatives, cousins and friends they don’t get to see often.
  4. I am a proactive parent and I am aware of my child’s activities and connections on Facebook. I make it a point to closely monitor his Facebook time.
  5. It’s about trust and the child’s need for independence. Also, my child knows that I am concerned about his safety and he can reach out to me if he faces any harassment online.
  6. Facebook Help Center offers information to help parents deal with common issues. So, all’s good!

 

What you may want to consider while taking a decision

  1. The minimum age to join Facebook is 13. However, a 2011 Consumer survey revealed that 7.5 million facebook users are younger than 13. Shockingly, the survey also found that, more than 5 million users were 10 and younger.
  2. At the time of signing up, many parents lie about the child’s age, setting an example in a way, though they may not want the child to follow that in similar situations.
  3. Cyber bullying - the use of technology to harass, threaten or embarrass another person. The Global Youth Online Behavior Survey by Microsoft found that over 5 in every 10 Indian children (aged 8-17) said that they had been bullied online.
  4. Children may be exposed to commercial posts, advertisements and content not suitable for them
  5. There have been several clinical studies linking internet overuse to feelings of isolation and sadness in teens and adults alike. A 2011 publication by the American Academy Of Pediatrics coined a term called ‘Facebook Depression’, claiming that excessive use of social media and the internet may trigger low self- esteem and depression in preteens and teens. The study was met with criticism, and many experts chose not to agree.
  6. Indeed, the term Social approval has taken a new avatar. We all know that Facebook has and does become an addiction for many. Checking how many ‘likes’ your status update received or how many people commented on your new vacation pictures is an obsession many adults find hard to resist. And while as adults, we may learn to restrain our self, but a child may find it difficult to deal with this need for constant social approval and appreciation.
  7. There is no proof that spending time on Facebook adds any social or educational value for the child.

To sum up, every parent knows what’s best for their child. What’s important is to not to let your decision be driven by pressure or haplessness. Having an honest, logical conversation with the child is what works in most cases.

 

So, is my child on facebook? 
Well, not yet. The issue did last a couple of months. And while I was explaining to him the difference between Democracy and Monarchy for a school assignment, I was quickly labelled a Monarch. But the tirade ended peacefully and the two thoughts that appealed to my child were, 
One, I would not want to lie about his age. Two, I would rather have him spending time reading a book, enjoying a sport or simply calling the people he wants to connect with. Plus, if he is really curious about what goes on up there, he can access through my account once in a while.

So, for now, there’s peace :-)

Do share your thoughts in comments to help us and fellow parents on parentune to find more ways to deal with this issue.

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| May 16, 2017

Very well written. I agree to it

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| Feb 12, 2017

very nice and I agree with you. My elder daughter never demanded this from me but I don't know may be my younger daughter may ask so this really going to be helpful for me. Thanks

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| Jan 15, 2017

rju6sg66uytyo

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| Jan 11, 2017

Hope the peace continues.... Well written... Enjoyed reading

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