Why your child is not my friend

It started four years ago – I’d get Facebook friend requests either from young girls I was mentoring or friends of our son. Not because I’m a cool Mom but maybe because their parents said something like, “Fine, Mr. Fourth Grader, you can have a Facebook account but you have to be friends with the Preacher’s Wife.” They might not even know my name but you know being friends with a Preacher’s Wife makes having an underage Facebook account alright. Ha! I’m kidding. But seriously, I’d get these friend requests and I didn’t know what to do with it.

I didn’t know what to do with it because they were 10 & 11 year olds and this is what Facebook clearly states about having an account at that age:

13 years old

Facebook requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account (in some jurisdictions, this age limit may be higher). Creating an account with false info is a violation of our terms. This includes accounts registered on the behalf of someone under 13.

If your underage child created an account on Facebook, you can show them how to delete their account.

If you’d like to report an account belonging to someone under 13, please fill out this form. Note that we’ll promptly delete the account of any child under the age of 13 that’s reported to us through this form.

I liked the idea of being friends with my kids friends on Facebook because you can tell a little about a person from Facebook. I want to get to know my kids friends and Facebook would give me a tiny glimpse into that. Plus it’s just fun to celebrate with people ya know? I love seeing pictures of my kids friends on Facebook.

But my dilemma remained. I decided I wouldn’t friend anyone under the required age of Facebook. And not so much because I was “boycotting” but I didn’t think it would be fair for me to be friends with my kids friends and not allow my own kids to have a Facebook account because of their age.

I continued to decline friend requests – my kids don’t even know this. If they asked me I would tell them. But I don’t want them to get a judgey attitude towards their friends because they have a Facebook account. Or to hate me because I won’t let them have one although it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I don’t judge their parents for allowing them to have one. That’s their choice. And honestly in some ways I wish my kids had a Facebook or Instagram account before they were 13 so they could have more experience┬ánavigating social media. But the simple principle is this: play by the rules even when everyone around you doesn’t. It’s hard to teach our kids to stand up for what is right when we help them go around what is right even in the small things. Especially in the small things.

So please don’t be offended if I don’t friend your child on Facebook. It’s not because I don’t like your kid. Because truth is I really do – a lot. And I promise I won’t be offended or judge you for making a personal choice I am not making for my kids. And we can still be friends – in real life.

 

Comments

  1. Smart.

  2. Yes! I’m 100% so on board with this. As a middle-school substitute teacher and a mom of a 13 year old, I make a conscious choice to not accept friend requests from students or my son’s friends. One, because I’m not truly their “friend.” I’m glad to be friendly and kind, but I’m all for the separation of real life from work/mom life. Two, I can hardly handle the adult nonsense on social media – teenage nonsense might just put me over the edge. ­čśë Glad to visit today from #threewordwednesday.

  3. Deborah Thomason says:

    I feel the same way, Melody!
    Just a little FYI- A friend of mine works with a psychologist who specializes in cyber bullying. According to his research, Instagram is the “safest” form of social media for youth and Facebook is the most dangerous. I thought it would have been the safest!
    Deborah
    P.s. I love your blog. You infuse it with so much humor. I find myself laughing out loud often! Thanks for sharing your stories!

    • That’s interesting Deb. I’d love to know more about that. Safest from the bullying aspect or safe from stalking of creepy people wanting to meet up? I just wish there was a way for Instagram to make the entire worlds thumbnail pictures optional to see. I’m not sure how some of them even pass the “no partial nudity” requirements of Instagram. And I just hate to put that in the hand of my curious children.

      • Deborah Thomason says:

        It’s probably safest from creepy people…
        You make a good point about the thumbnails and kids being curious. Some of that stuff you can’t unsee. I don’t want to be judgey either, but I feel like giving my kids access to those things is really unfair to them because they are curious too. So far, they have a small digital footprint by not having social media and I hope to keep it that way for as long as possible. I feel like it’s ok to be naive about certain things. We didn’t have access to it until later in life and I think the kids will be fine without it for now. Navigating it is pretty intuitive from a practical standpoint and hopefully, training our kids in the way they should go will help them navigate the moral aspects.