I’ve had a Facebook account for 7 years. Without it I wouldn’t have reconnected with my old school friend who is now my husband. Despite bad press I love seeing updates from friends and family, sharing photos of our children growing up and staying connected to those far away.
That’s why my young son has Facebook. When my son was 8 I signed him up for Facebook. I have 52 cousins on there, countless aunts and uncles, in laws and siblings. I felt it was quite hypocritical for me to upload pictures and status updates about my son when he wasn’t allowed access. I gave my daughter a Facebook account when she reached the same age.
I thought nothing of the children having accounts, they could keep in touch with family and even meet some they hadn’t had the opportunity to. Their friends all had accounts too so it seemed like the natural thing to do. Some of my in laws had other ideas.
My family relished the chance to interact with the children they’d known since birth. As we vetted every friends request and tightened the privacy I had absolutely no concerns about their interactions. They let me read their messages and I have their passwords. The main issue that concerned me was cyber bullying. I wanted to make sure they wouldn’t become a victim of it and so discussed this at length and told them what they should do, should anyone send derogatory messages.
Yet some in-laws refused to accept their friend requests. They decided that my children were too young to use Facebook and so shouldn’t be encouraged. As these people never post rude, lewd or offensive material I wondered what my children would need protection from.
Cup of Hypocrisy Anyone?
For instance, these in-laws use Facebook to upload pictures and videos of their own children regularly. If the child’s privacy was an issue surely they shouldn’t be sharing visual information for all the world to see, without their child’s permission.
They may only be children but in my opinion it doesn’t mean we have the rights to use them however we wish. They should have control over what they want the world to see.
My children have always seen photos before they’re posted. If they think one maybe considered embarrassing, I’ll leave it off. As my son is now 13, we’ve been through old photos that could prompt teasing from classmates and we’ve untagged him from most.
Of course there are parts of Facebook that children shouldn’t be subjected to, but every page ‘like’ and friend is a choice. This is exactly why I see it as a family friendly platform that does keep family close.
Mark Zuckerberg has declared he’d like to remove age restrictions completely – and I wholeheartedly agree. We all have choices and it’s the parents’ responsibility to ensure our children are as safe as possible online, without missing out on what is considered the norm of everyday life.
If a parent chooses not to let their children have a Facebook account, that’s purely understandable. It takes time to monitor and of course the social network isn’t loved by 100% of the population. However posting pictures of the child does have an air of the Victorian parenting mantra, “Do as I say don’t do as I do” about it.
I’m going to continue to let my children use Facebook. I love it when I’m in London for work and they can instant message me. I love posting updates on my days and seeing them comment on a picture. I love learning about what they’ve been up to. Of course, when we’re together, it’s not needed but sometimes it can be handy when they’re in bed to send a quick message to say “let’s have the laptop off now”.
I love that they chat and play online with my late father’s side of the family who live so far away. They’ve discovered a whole new family they never really knew they had and it keeps my father’s memory alive.
There’s no way I’d delete their accounts now – that’s their choice to make.