I love the fact that I can get on Facebook and communicate with my very first college roommate that I haven’t seen in eons. I love that I can share a funny quote or words of encouragement to make someone’s day. But as a parent, the world of social media has led to a new realm of parenting issues. At what age is it okay for children to have their own Facebook account? How much should a parent monitor what is being posted by their child? Should parents accept invites to become Facebook “friends” with a friend of their child?
I often notice when viewing Facebook that some adults and children use social media to flaunt curse words or post inappropriate pictures. And I know it’s easy to get caught up in the writing and sharing but what are they thinking? I dare say they aren’t thinking at all or are not realizing the impact of these words and pictures. Facebook posts can often be a detriment to a career, court appearance, college entrance, or family member. Whether you like it or not, your roommate may not be the only one reading your Facebook posts. It may be a hiring agent looking at your profile to determine your character. It may be a potential client or someone you attend church with. It may be your mother! Imagine finding a profile picture of your 11-year-old kissing an older girl. What are your responsibilities as a parent? If that’s what the public is viewing, what’s happening in private?
And maybe that is part of the problem. With Facebook and other social media, there is often little privacy. Many children do not think through the consequences of sharing with the whole world.
Children aged seven to nine are starting to develop personal opinions and an increasing sense of right and wrong, but that doesn’t mean they are mature enough for a Facebook account. Their reasoning abilities and abstract thinking are still developing.
Moral development is also occurring over time. Parents who take the time to model caring behaviors themselves and discuss issues with children help create an atmosphere for open ended dialogue and a foundation of caring and respect. As a parent I monitor what my children say on Facebook. If I feel it’s inappropriate then I may post a comment to reprimand them “publicly,” or if it’s really inappropriate it gets removed. It may seem picky and minute but I would rather have my children act respectfully and abide by a tried and true principle: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.