Facebook. Teenagers. Oh my.
It’s not just for women 35-55, which happens to be one of Facebook’s fastest growing demographics. Facebook has caught fire with the teenage set. No surprise there since its humble beginning was as a social network just for college students.
Both my teens have Facebook accounts. My daughter loves it and communicates with friends regularly; my son, not so much. If you think your young ‘tween or teen doesn’t have a Facebook page because you haven’t allowed it yet, think again. Unless you have the family computer under lock and key and your teens under unrelenting scrutiny every second they’re online, chances are they do – likely with a made-up name. Social networks are as much a part of today’s landscape for teens as TV and phones were for us. They will find a way to reach out and touch their friends across the social universe. Trust me on this.
If you’re pondering what age is appropriate, it may interest you to know that Facebook’s rules state you must be at least 13 years old to have a personal profile. So you’re on your honor. We had someone who posed as my daughter (no harm done, thankfully). This forced our hand a bit to allow her to start a profile prior to turning thirteen to clear up the confusion among her friends already on Facebook. The imposter profile disappeared soon thereafter – my hunch is it was a friend whose parents said ‘no’ to testing the waters. It just made sense in this case to fight fire with fire.
I’d be lying if I said it’s been smooth sailing. There have been no disasters, but I do have access and check their pages and that of friends routinely. Girls especially have a way of arguing online that’s not pretty. Boys seem to want to curse and converse and generally see who can “out cool” who. The shorthand, intentional misspellings, and texting lingo make the grammarian in me cringe. I’ve had both delete a few comments I felt ill-advised. I’ve also counseled both kids not to air the family dirty laundry there. No angry or threatening comments, (even if “Suzy” or “Brian” did look at the object of their affections all wrong) no dissing on school and teachers. Common sense, good judgment, and discretion are the rules here – reinforced daily. There are of course concerns about online predators all parents have and must be mindful of, but frankly, that’s a whole other topic in and of itself.
I’m actually envious we didn’t have social media growing up. It’s nice when my kids click “like” on something I’ve said on my page, or make comments about how much they enjoyed the family vacation, or the dinner I made last night. It’s great to have pet and family photos posted and tagged, (speaking of, be sure your kids do not take or post compromising ones!) and even converse once in awhile.
Tell me about your experiences with your teens and Facebook, or social media in general.
Are you onboard? I’d love to hear your insights.