If you have kids age 8+ you’ve likely already fielded THE social media question…“Can I have a facebook page?”  So for all those parents who struggle with determining the appropriate age to allow their child to have a facebook account, here’s a creative infograph (below) from Sodahead for ya.  But remember parents of kids…YOU are the final word of discernment within your family structure, not an online survey!  If you have children 18 and under and you’ve been reading this so far and asking yourself; “what is facebook?“, it might be a REALLY good time to sit down and continue reading!

Today’s Gen Z youth are the most (over)exposed generation to social networking and online media than any previous generation, so now more than ever families have to learn (and agree) to set appropriate guidelines for online consumption.  Are you still trying to decide what kind of media/online boundaries to set within your family?  Try the Is Your Teen Safe Online? quiz to assess what safeguards you currently have set up, and which ones you may want to think about setting to further protect your family’s online exposure.  But the main element is always TRUST

  • do your kids trust you, as their parent, to have their best interests in mind?
  • would you trust your children online if you weren’t around?  
  • have your children established a consistent pattern of respecting authority and boundaries?

If the answer is ‘No’ to any/all of those questions, then you’re likely looking at deeper core issues to address before you start to worry about whether or not they’re ready for facebook (or if you’re ready for them to be on fb!).  For me personally, I don’t think it’s necessary for anyone under thirteen/fourteen to have their own facebook page, and that might even be a bit liberal!  As with many things in life, there’s no blanket ‘across the board’ rule, but each individual situation is unique.  Some kids are more mature at a younger age than others…some families have strict guidelines, while others have little or no boundaries…and others are influenced by different moral, spiritual and cultural convictions.  When the time comes for my kids to ask, we’ll address the reasons why they want it, and why we’ve set the boundaries we have as a family.  Until then, I’ll keep learning and watching as the social media arena advances…and likely further detaches us from ‘real life’ (another reason I don’t think younger kids are prepared to responsibly engage social networking in a healthy and holistic way)!

Although a useful tool, social networking like facebook can have both a positive, but equally (and often more) damaging effect on you (self-perception) and your relationships…especially tweens/teens.  So while your 9-year-old might be a little young to start worrying about dating relationships, you can still get a head-start in understanding how the world of facebook can affect your child and their relationships (both online and in-real-life).  If your kids are 12+…they’re already bombarded with those pressures on a daily basis, so just because you think they might be ‘old enough’, it’s still paramount that parents set appropriate online boundaries for their children (and themselves!).  But make sure you enforce them, otherwise rules/boundaries without consequences produce little-to-no positive benefits, and actually become counter-productive.  And a word to parents…we better make sure we’re living within those boundaries and being a positive model ourselves!

Social networking, such as facebook, does offer unique opportunities for social interaction, but also a Pandora’s box of options for spying, stalking and other insecurities that can be revealed…especially the drama, self-esteem issues and jealousy games it plays on teens and younger adults.   Use with moderation, discernment and caution!

I’d love to hear your thoughts (from both parents/adults, as well as teens) on what you feel is the appropriate age to allow kids to have their own facebook/social networking account.

  1. Dr. Dave Currie says:

    Thanks sincerely for this input on FB and kids.
    Dr. Dave

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