The popular social networking site Facebook asks users to make commitments to register and maintain a Facebook account. One of these commitments reads “You will not use Facebook if you are under 13” yet according to a January report in Network World, 79% of social networkers under the age of 15 admitted to having a profile on the site.
If you have a child who is under 13 that has a Facebook account, or if your preteen is begging you to use Facebook, in addition to breaking the rules, allowing him access to the site sets three precedents that you may want to ponder.
1. It’s Okay to Lie When You Really Want Something
Do you really want to get into the world of colour coding lies? While some people may consider fudging your age to gain access to Facebook a white lie, to young children, a lie is simply a lie. Children learn by example. Allowing your child to fake it until he makes it, sends a strong message that if you want something bad enough, it’s okay to put to the truth behind you and say what you need to in order to get what you want.
2. The Rules Don’t Apply to Me
When you allow your child to break a rule that is designed for everyone, you’re sending the message that the rules were created for everyone else but your child. Teaching your child that he only has to follow the rules when he wants to, sends him down a slippery slope that can lead to rejecting authority from teachers or others.
3. It, It Must Be If Everyone Else is Doing Okay
All his twelve year old friends have Facebook, so your child should too, right? Take this opportunity to teach your child that following the crowd isn’t always the right thing to do. Teaching your child that following the rules, even when others aren’t or when he does not want to, is a life lesson that is worth teaching.
While allowing your child to use Facebook prior to turning 13 isn’t the worst parental decision you can make, it definitely can have more consequences then you may think. Before allowing your preteen to sign up, ponder the precedents that doing so may set.