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 navigating 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.