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letting my kids have Facebook?

(145 Posts)
MummaEss Fri 05-Jul-13 20:42:08

I know this might be a bit controversial but I just want to know any rational arguments against kids having a facebook account.

My girls have had accounts from the age of 6. They have older sisters (my step daughters from their Dads first marriage) who live elsewhere and although we are all close as a family and see each other regularly, facebook was a fantastic way for the sisters to keep in touch. My eldests best friend moved miles away and she was able to keep in touch with him, share photos etc via Facebook, and they remain firm friends despite seeing each other once a year. Also, the amount of reading, typing, spelling etc involved in using FB is surely beneficial to literacy development?. Also, back in the day it stopped the kids from wreaking my work on Farm Town ;)

I know lots of people think that having kids on social networking leaves them vulnerable to all sorts of predatory people but I fail to see this if the necessary precautions are taken. My girls (at least when they were little) were told that they were not to add people. I added close friends and family to their accounts and sorted privacy so no one else could see their inane posts. MY friends and family have also been told to just block them if they become annoying. Also, my kids know that although they may read (and hear...quite often) swear words they are not to repeat them EVER!

Basically I just want to know what the massive problem is? Opinions please smile

MrsBeep Fri 05-Jul-13 21:36:21

Even with the privacy settings on the highest, there are 'groups' on Facebook that your children could stumble upon which are highly inappropriate. And how would you control what they click on? They could click on a colourful and attractive ad for a game which is not appropriate for their age or one of the ads at the side that takes them to a website where they could accidentally download something to your computer that you don't want.

I don't see the upside.

MummaEss Fri 05-Jul-13 21:36:46

RavenAK I agree. I find Snapchat very worrying. My 13 yr old came across it and it seems like trouble :S

mrscumberbatch Fri 05-Jul-13 21:36:57

Teetering, that is incorrect. All messages sent to yourself via persons unknown go into your 'Other' Folder in your facebook mailbox.

teetering13 Fri 05-Jul-13 21:39:39

but if you have your privacy settings set to 'only friends' can message you then only friends can message you

mrscumberbatch Fri 05-Jul-13 21:41:13

ravenak, I think you're quite on the ball, and definitely not making ridiculous assumptions like MummaEss... but when your children inevitably do come across something unpleasant.... what if it's so awful that even if they tell you it's distressing?

There's pictures of decapitations, autopsies, rotting bodies etc. Some kids have a rank sense of humour.

MummaEss, if you've only just discovered the 'other messages' folder I don't think it would be fair for you to assume that you understand how this website functions.

mrscumberbatch Fri 05-Jul-13 21:43:01

Teetering- this is copy and pasted from Facebook itself:

Messages that are filtered out of your inbox will appear in your Other folder. If a message you're not interested in gets delivered to your inbox, select Move to Other from the Actions menu.

Keep in mind, anyone on Facebook can send you a message, and anyone can email you at your Facebook email address.

BackforGood Fri 05-Jul-13 21:44:44

You say they are friends with older sisters who live elsewhere?
I'm thinking they might be teens?
I don't think that a lot of what teens post and link to is something I would have wanted my 6 yr old to be reading. At 6, mine could e-mail relatives, and those relatives would reply, remembering they are writing to a 6 yr old. When they post on FB though, they are not, at that point, posting just to your 6 yr old.

Jengnr Fri 05-Jul-13 21:44:51

givemeaboost How is it a problem?

What can the 'wrong hands' actually do?

And aren't onesies about the most modest (albeit terrible) item of clothing ever? What could be inappropriate about that?

ravenAK Fri 05-Jul-13 21:46:53

Also, my dc use my laptop in the dining room. I sit marking books at the other side of the table.

'What are you up to ds?'
'Sending Uncle Fred a PM to say thanks for the birthday money' fairly typical of their FB interactions.

They don't use a PC unsupervised at all.

A much more troubling scenario is the 11 yo who's been bought a new Smartphone for secondary school, & whose parents are genuinely shocked when I or one of my colleagues ring them to let them know about the bullying their little innocent is up to his/her neck in. 'Oh no, we don't allow her on FB!'. Honestly, if I had a tenner for every time I've had that conversation, the kids could have a laptop of their own!

Raum Fri 05-Jul-13 21:46:56

Stick to the age limits on sites like this and on video games, your kids won't like it but it is in their best interest. No need for kids to have Facebook that young..

teetering13 Fri 05-Jul-13 21:47:09

Have a look in your privacy settings at who can message you, that ^^ may have something to do with what you have it set to

.. I have set my sons to 'only friends' can message him ... If I look at his profile in a 'view as public' mode, there is no option to message him

Awizardsstaffhasaknobontheend Fri 05-Jul-13 21:47:25

Ok, so she has an account set up for her 7 years early. Which means when she is 11 the account setting are going to think she is 18 and she will have access to any 18 related stuff there. You cant go back at a later date and change the account age, just shut it down. Will you remember to do this? Unlikely. You may be able to control who she friends now but as she gets older she will pick her own. We had a talk from my daughters school a couple of months ago and it really hit home to me how much "fun" on social networks can turn really nasty when the children don't have the maturity to handle it. Would you let your child walk up to complete strangers in the street and chat without you there? If not then they shouldn't be on Facebook.
Your child, your choice but I think you potenially making a serious error.

ravenAK Fri 05-Jul-13 21:49:42

mrscumberbatch - yes, I get (& share) the concern about gruesome content. But again - the most likely way they'll see that sort of thing is in a couple of years & on a classmate's phone, sadly.

In itself it's not reason enough for me to shut down their supervised internet access.

mrscumberbatch Fri 05-Jul-13 21:50:13

ravenak, I totally agree that smartphones etc are also an issue and perhaps your monitoring of your DC works for you.....

But it's impossible to ignore the FB horror stories involving minors and young teenagers that crop up repeatedly and we can't assume that every parent is as stringent as yourself with regards to their child's wellbeing.

I would rather adopt a strict- Nobody under 16 should be on it for their mental health rather than make exceptions for mature children (as then any lacklustre parent will use that as an excuse for their offspring having an account from age 6- "Oh but she's MATURE!").

specialsubject Fri 05-Jul-13 21:51:21

you'd better check they haven't entered their full address, phone number and date of birth, and aren't happily telling the world when they are going on holiday.

or posted pictures including identifiable details. Or can be googled by name to find all this stuff.

mrscumberbatch Fri 05-Jul-13 21:51:45

Just to specify- I have no issues with children having supervised internet access. I have issues with children being on FB.

Redbindy Fri 05-Jul-13 21:53:02

Let your kids loose on the internet. It saves actually looking after them.

gandalfcat Fri 05-Jul-13 21:53:09

My DS is 13 but had decided not to have an account as he says it is normally the cause/route of most squabbles/bullying/teasing/teen-drama and he just doesn't want a part of it - I think he is probably displaying a more sensible/mature attitude than the OP!

yegodsandlittlefishes Fri 05-Jul-13 21:54:45

Facebook's terms of use are that everyone has to be over 13. If you allow your children to use it before they are 13, you are paving the way to need to justify why there is a legal age limit for alcohol, sex, films/DVDs, driving and so on.

You may not be aware, but there's a very big problem in this country with children sending naked pictures of one another, and sharing them, and the images are getting into the hands of paedophiles. You might think your sweet 8 yo wouldn't do something like that, but they do, not realising what it is they are doing (or knowing it's illegal).

If they grow up with access to a laptop/computer and facebook, make sure you have 'net nanny' on all devices, including smart phones!

antimatter Fri 05-Jul-13 21:54:57

you mut have lied about their age then - if someone's under 13 FB won't allow to register

LookingForwardToMarch Fri 05-Jul-13 21:56:17

There are many other ways for them to keep in touch with family.

Facebook for 6 year olds, seriously?

Their privacy settings are a joke.

fuzzpig Fri 05-Jul-13 22:00:36

Blimey my 6yo DD has only been on the internet at home, erm... about 5 times, when she has typed an artist name into google to see their paintings (school topic) and that sort of thing! Behind the times, clearly, and probably doomed in terms of future career prospects for lack of technological knowledge... hmm

ravenAK Fri 05-Jul-13 22:01:21

But as you say mrscumberbatch, the horror stories tend to involve young teens (who are far more likely to seek out dodgy content, or to be flattered by a stranger's interest) - not younger kids.

I believe that teenagers are going to be safer online if, by the time we can't realistically control their use of the internet (say about 11 or 12), they are thoroughly au fait with e-safety, having become confident internet users before their teens & under fairly close supervision.

You might like to ban FB for U16s, but it ain't going to happen, & frankly, FB is the equivalent of a paddling pool when it comes to social media these days, once you start looking at some of the 'high dive area' alternatives...

PoppyAmex Fri 05-Jul-13 22:03:54

you're putting your trust in the hands of one of the most amoral organisations on the Internet.

Not to mention their privacy settings change almost monthly and are a joke.

mrscumberbatch Fri 05-Jul-13 22:10:22

Will agree to disagree Raven, websites like 4chan or Reddit have a reputation for being full of dodgy content but there's a large percentage of that content originates from facebook.

The education of children and the internet is a bit of a minefield at the moment as it didn't really explode in popularity till the late 90's so there doesn't seem to be a coherent education plan in place, it's mostly left up to parents and unfortunately a lot of parents don't understand the internet either.

My own DD is 3 and can find her way around a computer, it's going to be so important for current and future generations to be tech-savvy.... but even as an ardent supporter of non-censorship etc I worry.

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