Raising kids. Keeping House. Choosing joy, every day.

Readers Ask: Should Kids Use Facebook?

A what point did you allow your kids to use social media? My daughter wants to get a Facebook account, but I am not sure what age is appropriate.

Social media is a whole new animal and I am no expert on this one.

If you don’t have teens yet, trust me, that this is one area where having toddlers is easier than teens.

Social media is still so new that we have yet to see its affects on society in general and children in specific. Articles like these here and here which speak of children as young as 7 years old being addicted to social media make me cringe and want to throw my computer and all “hand-helds” out the window, bring them back inside, and throw them out again just for dramatic effect.

(Everyone needs a hero. This mom and her list of usage rules for her child’s new Christmas iPhone is AMAZING. This woman should get Mother of the Year, or something. )

I have a love/hate relationship with social media.

Social Media: 1950's style

I love checking into Facebook to see adorable photos of my friends kids and to read all of my favorite online subscriptions. I love keeping up with good friends and hearing their news. I love keeping in touch with my college-aged daughter and her friends.

I hate being bombarded with human nature every day on Facebook. Know what I mean? People who are self important really brag on Facebook. People who pride themselves in being know-it-alls are “know-it-alls on steroids” on Facebook. Facebook seems to brings out the best and worst in people…and then some. Some people live in dream worlds, others find boldness hiding behind a computer screen (my sisters and I dubb it the “small man syndrome”…big talk across the computer, not so much face to face.)

When our kids are Seniors in High School they are allowed to open a Facebook Account. We tell our kids that Facebook is just an extension of your words, and that they are accountable to God and us for their words.

Some things we’ve considered before allowing our kids to open a social media account:

1. Their maturity. They are responsible to God and others for what they write, post and cross promote.

2. Who their online friends will be. Yes, you did indeed read that right. If we feel a person is a bad influence, we’ll ask the kids to not “friend” them on FB. If we find that someone is always posting inappropriate pictures or things that are shady, we’ll ask them to defriend them. DE-FRIEND. Yup. We’re THAT kind of parent. {Insert low, fast, “drug company advertisement side-effects warning voice:”} “De-friending may occur for the following infractions: complaining or critical spirit about parents, church, school or other God ordained relationships in a child’s life, immodest or “loose-looking” pictures (button up your blouse–you’re a lady!) foul language, promoting of unwholesome activities, places or entertainment, or other bad attitudes in general.”

We really believe that God does care about your teens Facebook page. If you claim to be a daughter of the King, then, yes, even our kids FB is under His Lordship.

3. How much time a day they’ll spend on social media. You should set a reasonable boundary. My kids love it when I joke with them that they can spend as much time on media as they did in their quiet time. No, seriously though, you do need a time limit.

4. Their maturity in the faith. If you have a teen who is struggling, limiting social media may frustrate them, but might be a good for them long-term. They don’t need another distraction, and they might need to be shielded from societal norms. {I DON’T believe that ALL societal norms are “normal” at all.}

I am not even talking about shielding them from other struggling teens, but from adults on FB who should be a good example but who post things that are inappropriate. A struggling teen does not need to see an adult from their church who “likes” or posts immodest or inappropriate pictures of women. They don’t need to be bombarded with the hypocrisy of someone who acts one way on Sunday but then lives an entirely different life AND POSTS ABOUT IT Monday- Saturday.

So that’s what we do in our family. How do you handle social media in your family?

PS:We can’t blame new technology for today’s problems. Every generation does this. Yes, Facebook/Twitter/etc… is new, but so was the telephone at one point. It’s not the technology’s fault, but the user behind the it. (just like the gossip’s lips are to blame, not the actual telephone.) If you find your teen is distracted, distant, in the middle of squabbles or indulging in gossip online, you can’t really blame social media. These are heart and worship issues.