Maureen Turner: We Are Family


My Kids and Facebook

What Age is the Right Age?

My step daughter is 11-years old, and like most tweens, she is looking for more and more freedom. She wants to be treated more like an adult and she would like more privacy.

While I understand all of these wants, and I think she is just in wanting them, it scares me to death.

I want her to be able to go hang out with friends after school. I want her to feel secure walking up to the mall by herself, but I worry about her.

We have given her a cell phone, and that helps calm my nerves. We have talked endlessly about making good decisions and not taking part in anything that makes her uncomfortable, but I remember the peer pressure. It’s not always easy to say no when friends are pushing you. This year, she started a new school, and I am sure there are new kids (read boys) she will hope to impress. I just hope she does it with her quick wit and intelligence.

The latest debate we are having is about Facebook. Both her dad and I are on Facebook, and so are some of her friends (I know because they have asked me to be “friends” - I don’t accept anyone under a certain age unless we are related).

So, Facebook’s minimum age is 13. Eleanor is almost 12. She desperately wants to join, and I can understand why. It’s a place to chat with friends and connect. The same reasons any of us join.

My concern lies with how easy Facebook allows drama to spread, how quickly a small mistake can become a huge ordeal, and how one stupid remark/photo will sit there waiting to come back in your face at any moment. It’s documented for everyone to see.

We have talked about Facebook. Eleanor knows that she will not get the privacy she so desires on Facebook. All parental units would have her password and could check up on her at anytime, all photos would have to be approved before posting, and one wrong move would get her shut down.

Now the question is: when?

Do you have kids on Facebook? how old were they when they started? What rules do you have in place?