Mydaughter@allgrownup.helpme

A few years ago I had the great pleasure of meeting with some nice people who work for MSN.  At the time they were putting together an online video show called Mom’s Homeroom.  MHR is a show for parents which centers around education and other parenting issues.  Because of this blog, they hired me to moderate their message board.  Despite my lack of moderating experience, they gave me wonderful baptism-by-fire training, and set me free to play sandbox monitor for nearly two years.  My contract ended at the end of 2010, and MSN then hired me to write as a guest blogger on the website.

Mom’s Homeroom has been completely and wonderfully revamped, so that now it’s extraordinarily easy to navigate and find video and articles on all sorts of parenting and educational topics.  I’ve again been hired by Mom’s Homeroom to write blog posts on current topics from the website.  And this time I get to host the posts on my own blog.  

I love this new format, because I’m able to involve YOU ALL in the conversation.  And best of all, because this is my blog, I’m free to abuse grammar rules, engage in excessive comma usage, and make up words at will.

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The latest battle that has been waged in our Pre-Menopausal Mother vs. Hormonal Tween smackdown involves the internet.

Because this particular tween shares my gene pool, she has a penchant for pushing the boundaries.  Right over the cliff.  When we’ve extended certain freedoms regarding the internet, we’ve caught her going to sites other than those we’ve deemed as okay.

She didn’t realize that we have the ability to check the history.  She thinks we have eyes in the back of our heads and KNOW ALL AND SEE ALL.  And I’m okay with that.  Therefore, we’ve been strict with her internet usage, and have to sit with her for the most part when she’s online.

She loves that.

Recently my husband set her up with an e-mail account.  At first I thought he was crazy, because WHAT OTHER 12 YEAR OLD HAS E-MAIL?  Quite a few, as it turns out.  A couple of her close girlfriends have accounts as well as her A.H.G. pen pal who lives in another state.

At first I was reluctant to give her access to a mail account.  But then I thought about  the pen pals I accumulated after various moves when I was her age.  Some I wrote to as long as 20 years afterwards.  Which involved stationary, a pencil, and a 10 cent stamp (hello, age alert?), but still, correspondence is correspondence.  And since this computer age really seems to be sticking (I gave it 2 weeks while taking Computer Science in college), I may as well keep up with the times.

I don’t see a problem with an e-mail account for her.  As long as the only correspondence is to the kids that we know.  Fortunately, it’s very easy to spy follow up on what she is sending and receiving.

Trust is earned.  Not expected.

Mom’s Homeroom has a terrific article on keeping kids safe while using the internet.  Computer usage by kids is a given in this age of technology.  And it can be a wonderful resource for education.  We use our computer in our every day homeschool life for curriculum as well as research.

But, what is your opinion of Facebook for tweens and teens?  From what I understand, Facebook has set a rule that you must be 14 or older.  I see kids younger than 14 on Facebook all of the time.

My daughter is jockeying for her own FB page, and this is one battle that she’s not going to win for a few years, until we see a good deal more maturity.  And even then, she’s going to be friending her mother.  Wherein I may take to posting daily pictures of myself making the fish face while holding out the requisite 2 fingers. Parenting revenge is best served steaming hot.

What are your feelings about kids on Facebook?  Harmless, or asking for trouble?

* This blog is part of an incentivized online influencer network for Mom’s Homeroom.  Mom’s Homeroom is brought to you by Frosted Mini-Wheats.

April 23, 2012

21 Responses to Mydaughter@allgrownup.helpme

  • Facebook is actually 13 and up.

    My daughter got one when she turned 13 but she’s carefully monitored. She’s not allowed to accept friend requests from anyone she doesn’t personally know. And of course her dad and I were her first friends!

    A friend of mine had to make a rule with her daughter that she was not allowed to accept friend requests from anyone over 18, except for Mom. In their case, it’s because an older cousin who’s on FB is less than savory, so she made this blanket rule for her daughter. Luckily that’s not a concern for us.

  • I held off on FB until my older child was almost 15 and in 9th grade. The deal was that he had to friend me, and I had his password so I could go on his account and see everything posted on there. As a boy, he doesn’t use it much for posting items, rather to keep up with what his friends (all 398 of them) are doing. My younger is about to graduate from 8th grade (at 14 1/2) and has been dying for a FB page for 2 years. I told her she could have one when 8th is completed and the deal will be the same as with her brother. I assume she will use it much more than he does, and I will be monitoring it way closer! My fear is of bullying, as well as just generally getting her feelings hurt if others are doing something without her being invited.
    It is a sticky situation and every family needs to do what feels right for them!
    I think you are doing well with your kids! Of course you know their job is to continually push you….you just need to push back harder and stand your ground! Good luck!
    BTW, we had the same issue with cell phones and held off much longer than many of their friends! But, that’s another issue!

  • My daughter had a Myspace when we told her not to, so she was banned for a while from any social interaction online. I was hesitant about FB, but because I was friends with them and had their passwords I agreed to let my kids have one.

    I do have a friend that just found out her daughter still had her FB account after her parents told her to delete it- she just blocked them and anyone else that knew her parents. Crazy!

  • I don’t see anything wrong with kids having a FB page as long as parents are keeping an eye on things. I let my youngest have one, who is 17 now, but the agreement was that I got her user name and password. If you don’t let them have one, they just get a friend to set them up with one and the parents don’t even know.

  • I am against fb for kids mostly b/c you cannot control what other people will post. She just turned 9 and we do not allow her on fb at all – thanks to Net Nanny. Unfortunately, her mom (I’m the stepmom) set her up with a fb page to “play games” when she went for a visit. Let’s just say I’m glad we blocked access b/c there are some colorful things posted by her mom.

  • My son is 17, my daughter 13. We do not allow them to have a facebook page. I only got a facebook page a year ago and that was because my high school reunion was coming up. My 17 year old has had problems in the past with inappropriate computer usage so he is limited in his computer use anyway. As for my 13 year old? Two words: mean.girls. She just isn’t emotionally ready to deal with that. We can shield her from that to some extent since she is homeschooled but facebook can be a cess pool in that regard.

  • The biggest problem I have with FB is time consumption. As a homeschooler, that’s a serious problem; especially if your child has to be on the ‘puter for school work, and you aren’t always around. Too easy for them to distract themselves. (On that note you wouldn’t happen to know of something that would allow parents to limit time on specific sites, now would you?)
    I have password access to child’s FB account and am their friend (as well as friend to most of their friends. . .but that was their friends’ requests rather than mine). I monitor frequently.

  • I set up a fb and email account page for my son to keep in touch with friends from school and his extended family. He has “training wheels” on now, I have his passwords, I have full access to both accounts. He also knows that I can check history of his internet usage. Our computer is also in full view of the entire family so we can monitor what he is doing on the monitor. 🙂

  • Oldest is 15 and is not allowed to do FB. There is too much junk/cursing/whining/complaining/ungodliness posted by other people and so-called ‘friends’. If I wanted her to be exposed to that stuff, I’d send her to public school! 🙂

  • I would probably be a lot more hesitant if we public-schooled. As it is, we homeschool, and so far all of my daughter’s friends that do post are completely nice and sweet. We’re just really lucky, I guess!

    The main computer at our house is also in the living room, and she leaves her FB logged in all the time, so I can check on it any time I want.

  • I was on FB for 18 months, been off since March 1st. One of my “many” weak links is gossip. I grew up in a very Italian family, where your fist words upon entering a home is “Got any good scoops?” So God really convicted me to GET OFF FB! Many others aspects of FB I did not like either. But that is just me. And it is definitely a time-consumer for sure.

    I would probably pray long and hard, and see which direction the Holy Spirit leads you and your husband. If you have any doubt, I wouldn’t do it. I read a Charles Stanley book quite a few years ago about “knowing the enemy”. He said “doubt” does not come from God, but from the good ‘ol devil himself. I never forgot that. It made me think long and hard. God asks us to do hard things for sure, but peace will usually come with the difficulties.

    I think an email account is much safer. My son has an email account (he is 13) and we have had no issues. Of course he is a boy and hates to write!

    Sometimes I just have to think “Would God want me, or my child to do this…or that?” We are parents of teens in very, very, tough times. It is not for the faint of heart. May God be with us moms!

  • Anti-fb for kids. Too many things they are exposed to from indirect friendships. Having said that, 2 of my 3 have email addresses and the third is starting to hound. They mostly email one another and us. The first, received her acct to correspond with grandparents and aunts that live far from us. At this point they are both very internet compliant, but I’m sure I will be punished by the cosmos for typing that ‘out loud’ in the next week.

  • The other thing to remember on FB – and any widespread social media, really – is to watch what you post. Even though you can set really strict privacy controls so that only certain people can see certain items, never trust that. Mistake can – and HAVE – happen and suddenly everything you thought was private has been exposed to the whole world.

    My personal mantra for posting online is a)never tell everyone we’re going to be gone at certain times, especially for trips and b)most importantly, never, ever post anything that would embarrass me if it became public to the whole wide world including parents, grandparents, teachers and potential future bosses.

  • All my girls (13, 15, & 17) have facebook accounts as well as email accounts. They also go to public school. Sadly, the only problems I’ve encountered have been from family posting innapropriate things, which I took care of right quick! If their friends say something I feel is not their best, I call them on it. It’s been taken well so far, and I usually get a “Sorry Mrs. Mongold” I guess I differ from most of the people who comment here, DeeDee, but my girls despite being allowed major access to the internet, lots of Netflix time to watch shows others would probably never let their kids near, and going to public school are sweet, kind, and most of all have hearts sold out to Jesus. Stepping down off my soapbox now 😉

    • I wanted to jump in here quickly. I just sent a note to Lisa. I never ever want this space to be a homeschool v. public school issue. I know nothing like that was intended, but I did want to go on record as having said that. In a nutshell, what I told her was, “It’s a tricky topic, this whole homeschooling/public schooling dialogue. My hope is that we all agree that our common ground is that we all love our kids, want what’s best for them, and still can encourage one another BECAUSE THIS PARENTING BUSINESS AIN’T FOR SISSIES. :)”

      Amen?

  • *sigh* ok I could talk forever on this subject because I am opinionated. LOL and I talk a lot. My daughter got an email 2 years ago I wanted to encourage her to write more. At the time she was 11. We used zilladog.net which allowed her to have one, and for a one time signup fee of 10 dollars (free after that no annual fee) I have the piece of mind that I get a copy of everything she sends or receives, I also have the ability to edit her block list…if someone like a friend that she met emails her it goes to block folder where I put in my password and review it and deem ok or not ok for her safe list. Now onto facebook. This is one I have fought forever and drug my feet on. However she just turned 13 and most of her friends that have parents I know well with very similar values to mine were getting one on their 13th bday. I decided to let her have one since fb age is 13. I set it up for her and presented it as a bday present, plus it allowed me to sign her up and put all the settings to private etc. As it happens she also got to wear makeup (thinly lol) so I got her a makeover and then took her pic and told her it was for her profile. So that scream you heard recently way down there from Florida was from us. Your welcome. I know you wanted that wakeup call. But anyway the one thing we did was made a contract for her and she had to sign it first. It had things such as “mom and dad will always be on your friends list”, she could not add anyone she does not know in real life and she has to ask first, if her attitude changes while using it, then she is off it for a few days, since she is homeschooled there is no using it until after chores and schoolwork is done, she had to agree to only post positive uplifting things or encouragin things to others and not post when she was mad, and report anything she found upsetting to us. oh and mom and dad reserve the right to go into her acct at anytime unannounced and that it is for her safety. If any of the rules on contract are broken the page is shut down permanently. She signed it willingly and so far has done pretty well with it. Plus I have family members on there, and said parents of friends I mentioned above, so there is not much she could do without me knowing about it. I have eyes and ears all over it. lol Ok there is my NOVEL for you. I tried to summarize it. haha. If you decide to get one for your daughter and would like to see a copy of my daughters contract message me and I will gladly share it! 🙂

  • I pretty much can say, “What they said” here.

    The kids got email at 16, FB at 17. As a birthday gift from us. With a contract. Same rules as above.

    I get passwords, first Friend requests, etc. I set them up with email on gmail, and then set ip up where a copy of every email goes to the parents account. You know, where I read every. single. thing that comes in/out.

    K hated that. J was ok with it.

    It did not stop at 18. We do not subscribe to the “you are a legal adult” thing here. More like, the “as long as you live under out roof” thing.

    And since moving out to a house with no internet, K can only check her email here. And frankly, I think she forgets that I still get a copy of everything.

    But. Getting copied allowed us to have conversations about appropriate things, when needed, and gave us some great dialogue opportunities.

    And yes. The contract did state that if they ever opened an account we did not know about, all internet usage- school or not- would come to an immediate end. FOREVER.

    It would be back to the library for research in books (gasp) and periodicals. And the trusty Brother typewriter for reports and homework.

    That was MORE than enough to encourage good behavior. Trust me.

  • I think everyone has to decide what is right for their own kids/family first of all, and what is right for one may not be right for the next. I base my decisions on what I feel is right, not on what everyone else says is right. My 17 year old has a facebook account…but it has always been monitored. My husband requested all of our son’s friends, and they all accepted. And we have his password so we can monitor anything that goes on “in private” if we feel necessary. Most of all, we keep a VERY open communication with our children. Our daughter will NOT have a facebook account before she is 13, no matter how much she may want it. They have an age set for a reason, and I personally think the age should be higher. No matter how secure your settings are, you can’t control what others post and your child may see. I have friends who have allowed their children under 13 have facebook, and it honestly drives me crazy! In my opinion, that is teaching your child it is ok to lie and break the rules. The rules say you must be 13. You have to enter your birthday to open an account to “prove” you are at least 13. So, to get an account before that, you are LYING about your age! And all that is before even thinking about what is actually out there on facebook! Apparently there are people who think that is ok to teach your children that sometimes it’s ok to like and break the rules. I’m not one of those parents.
    Now, once she IS 13, I’ll have to consider all factors before making my decision if she will get one then or have to wait.
    Sorry if I sound annoyed or irritated in this message…if I do, I’m totally blaming it on PMS!

  • I have three sons. None have asked for a FB account or an email. Our biggest issue with the Internet is the easy access “pork.” One inadvertent click or click o’curiosity and the pig fat has hit the fan. So to speak. When it comes to the computer, we filter, check history, require time limits, require computer usage only in public areas, and basically use every check we can. Proudly overprotective. But I know what is seen cannot be unseen. That being said, if any of the boys were to request a FB account, I would lean towards the contract idea because the opportunity to teach responsibility has to come with the extension of freedom. Monitored freedom but freedom nevertheless.

    Great ideas you’ve shared. Thanks.

  • Well we’ve had this discussion many times in our home. I have facebook, the man does not. I have tried to get rid of facebook but darn it all, people who have me administrate their page kind of expect me to you know administrate the page. So I stay.

    Our children (11 (almost 12) and 9) will not be getting a facebook account any time in the forseeable future. Even if it is “just to play farmtown”.

  • As a professor of Communication Studies, someone who has done a considerable amount of research, and one who teaches a class about New Media, I would have to say no way, no how, nuh uh, never, not until their out of the house. But that’s just me. There is far too much that can be *hidden* on Facebook and other social media websites that can be harmful. In addition to that, what goes on the internet is there to stay……f-o-r-e-v-e-r, even if you try to get rid of it – it’s there. If it were my kiddos, there’s no way on God’s green earth I would condone the use of social media, but that’s just me.