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The GEM Debate: Facebook’s New, Young Friends?

I have a story for you, leading into today’s debate. After I tell you this, you’re going to think I am either desperate, sad, lonely, possibly pathetic. Maybe all of the above. But I will tell you to illustrate a point; that is the ubiquitous nature of social media, or specifically, Facebook.

My Facebook account was down for maintenance all morning and I felt so… odd.. like I was out of touch. Yeah I had Twitter but I wanted to check in on Facebook;  to say hi to my “friends” and find out what’s going on in their lives. I wanted motivation, to see pictures, find out what others are reading, important for someone like me who spends the majority of her time writing alone.

So much to my chagrin, my Facebook page was down for maintenance, a job big enough to span about four hours. Let me say there was palpable relief when I checked in and didn’t get the warning, which, for a moment I thought was a result of some nefarious behavior on my part. I can assure you it was not.

I say all to illustrate what a big role social media plays in our lives. We know that and so does Facebook, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, is considering lowering the minimum age for users. As is it now, kids have to be 13 but studies show that millions of kids lie to obtain accounts before becoming teens, sometimes with their parent’s knowledge. The proposal would allow kids to have Facebook accounts but with parental controls.

So, good idea or not? Those who believe Facebook’s secondary (or primary?)  role is to gather information on its users, are very concerned. Add to that the number of bullying incidents with tragic outcomes and you can see where there might be cause for that concern.

My personal take on it is that, if the parental controls were appropriate, I would be okay with my kid being on Facebook under 13. Of course, you’re talking to someone who’s kids were part of Club Penguin too so social media has been a part of their lives for many years.

Like a lot of things (TV, computer, etc..), Facebook cannot be allowed to be a babysitter so that means we as parents, can’t not be derelict in our duties. That means knowing what our kids are doing online…. And off.

That’s my take.. what about you guys? Facebook for kids under 13, good idea or bad? Are your kids on Facebook? How much do you monitor their online behavior and are there things going on that worry you?

Lemme hear ya!

More from GEM:

Ask Rene: My Boyfriend Tells Another Girl EVERYTHING!

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  1. Sandy Seale

    June 4, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Wow things were so much simpler when I was raising my girls who are now in their 40s. None of these electronic gadgets to deal with or parental controls needed. Even our TV had only a few channels & you had to get up & walk over to it to change those….until they were into their teens then we got cable & remotes 🙂 I only say this to point out we (kids esp) can live without these devices & could also live w/out social medias. Its all well & good to say parental controls but those often fall short for one reason or another. There are already many kids that I know under 13 on FB as you pointed out; also many on computers (even on their phones they have internet access……phones under 13 a whole other story). There are so many predators out there so why give them one more possible access to our children. Why give our kids one more way to be less productive, be more idle, etc. I know we can’t go back to the dark ages I grew up in where kids actually had to use their imaginations to play without any of these gadgets of today…..but we could take some lessons from less is more.

  2. Ella Rucker

    June 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    1. Social media is your career so it’s not pathetic.
    2. FB like any other money making machine needs revenue. I’ve ALWAYS said that those kids that work for Disney and other teen channels have it made. Kids love supporting things blindly. There are no politics on why they love what they love, and parents love to get things for their children. Money all around.
    3. I think it is inevitable that all businesses REFRAME THEIR GAME as your Monday Morning Motivation says. FB was built for college kids so it makes sense their original biz model would exclude children. Times change.
    4. Joelle has more apps on my iPad than I do, and Netflix is one of her favorites. She’s from another time and I definitely embrace that. She knows which games and shows are for her, and she never waivers. I keep an eye out just in case. That’s the same thing all parents do no matter if it is FB or real “friends.” So I’m all for it. Plus, it is a great way to see what your kids are doing even if they aren’t your friend. I’ve caught several and just sent an email to their parents about their dubious behavior. 🙂

  3. PiecesOfEight

    June 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    I personally think it is just another way to market to kids, and get money cause their Stock is plummetting and they need revenue.

    I think it is going to be a haven for bullies and pedophiles

  4. Robin

    June 5, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    My 13 year old (by only a mere month) came into my room today to ask if he could have a FB page. I applaud him because after I blasted this to my entire FB community of FRIENDS I found that many moms didn’t even know their yungins had pages and found out by accident. So for that I’m thankful. I approved his request, told him he was on a probationary period of 30 days and we’d review at the end of the 30 days his appropriatness which really I have not worries about. My concerns come with the people he’s connecting to BUT this is the real world and they have to learn. I’m also making him sign a contract (yeah can you say anal) that gives him some perimeters and Dos and Donts. I have a great friend who has taken on Social Media and Teens to help parents understand what is going on Chief Technology Mommy, so I’ll be looking for her for support.

  5. Marlin Page

    June 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    I have had many discussions (today alone) about Facebook’s decision to possibly lower the age limit to join their social network. It is very clear that this is a plan to build their audience, garner influence and increase profits. Unfortunately their are children who are under 13 who are using Facebook some with their parents permission, however I believe that the age limit should not be altered. With the increase of cyber bullying and online predators, it is mind boggling that this plan is even being considered. As an Internet Safety Advocate and Mommy, we must keep our children’s safety in the forefront.

    Luckily parents have the final say as to when or if their child joins Facebook. I totally agree with you that we cannot allow Facebook to babysit our children, we are responsible and there can be no more excuses. If your child is on Facebook you should be on Facebook, Privacy settings should be set together, and expectations and consequences should be clearly communicated.

  6. zahra

    October 27, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    your gem your home

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