Really. I don’t want to be Facebook “Friends” with your kids. Or with anyone under the age of 21. Actually, make that 27. I prefer “friending” only adults with fully developed pre-frontal lobes who understand satire and are able to write in complete sentences without resorting to LOL-speak. If you don’t know the meaning of that last word, I will be “friends” with you. But not with your kids.
For one, I don’t want to censor myself more than I already do. I’m already “friends” with my mom, which means I try to avoid dropping f-bombs and being otherwise “tacky.” But at least she’s had years to get used to my writing inappropriate things in public.
Just as I don’t want to read about how many virtual milk cows you’ve added to Farmville, I don’t want to read your kids’ status updates. I just don’t. It makes me feel stalkerish and queasy. I hear more than enough silly pre-teen and teen banter driving carpool for my 12-year-old without reading it as I’m checking for silly adult banter on Facebook.
Plus, why are kids even on Facebook? The minimum age to have a FB page is supposedly 13. The official Facebook policy page says: “If you are under age 13, please do not attempt to register for Facebook or provide any personal information about yourself to us. If we learn that we have collected personal information from a child under age 13, we will delete that information as quickly as possible.”
So why am I getting “friend” requests from your 11 and 12-year-old children? And even, once, a 9-year-old? Are y’all telling your kids it’s OK for them to lie about their age to create time-suck social media accounts? I remember lying about my age in order to buy beer, but it was not with parental approval (or knowledge). So maybe you don’t know that your kid’s on Facebook? Better check.
My 12-year-old does not have a Facebook page. I did check. Nor will she have one for a good long while. I don’t think my 9-year-old even knows what Facebook is, thank the goddesses. My oldest shows no interest in spending time on-line, except for playing games and tracking her fantasy baseball team. But if she was interested in having her own Facebook page, I’d say, “No fricking way.” When she’s older, I may allow her to dive into the quagmire of on-line social interaction, but it will be with supervision. And she must “friend” her parents and her grandparents (though my dad’s never gonna be a Facebooker. For which I’m thankful). This may rein in her potential for public inappropriateness—though I don’t suppose her mom’s been a particularly good role model in that area. And while I’ll continue to have to deal with her silly banter, I can try to avoid that of her friends (love that “Ignore” button).
On a more serious level, I don’t think she’s mature enough to navigate the “friend” minefield of Facebook. I know adults who’ve gotten their feelings hurt by being “un-friended” or not being invited to a certain event that’s being crowed about on FB. There are also the folks who use the social media outlet as a tool for hurting or bullying others. I need more time to hammer safe on-line practices into my kids’ heads before I let them take on social media. Also, maybe it’s a brave new world, but I think using Facebook to announce your relationship status changes is a cultural regression. Plus it’s uncomfortable to get that random “so-and-so is single” or “so-and-so’s in a relationship and it’s complicated” message. Isn’t every relationship complicated? What does that mean anyway?
Ultimately, I’ll stick with Facebook myself so I can, in the future, monitor my kids activities there. In the meantime, I’m not gonna “friend” your or anyone else’s kids. Sorry.