Should Your 14 Year Old Be On Facebook?

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True story, here’s how it went down…

I’m hanging out with a friend, a mom who has a 14 year old daughter.

The following conversation unfolds:

Daughter: Hey mom, can I have a Facebook account, all my friends are on it and I’m the only one who’s not.

Mom: No

Daughter: Pleeeeease, I’m the only kid who’s not on it.

Mom: No

Daughter: That’s so unfair, why can’t I have one?

Mom: I don’t want everything about you posted online for everyone to see, where all kinds of wackos can find you. And, especially, if you put up pictures, which I know all your friends do. I don’t want strangers knowing what you look like, where you live or really anything about you.

Daughter: But, nobody can see my profile unless I friend them, so it’s like totally private. Plus, I’ll even friend you, so you can see everything I’m doing.

Mom & Daughter: Jonathan…PLEEEZ, you’re a cyber dork, you gotta help us.

Jonathan (to daughter): Let me ask you a question, do your friends talk about you and what they do with you on their Facebook pages?

Daughter: Yes, every day.

Jonathan: And, do they post pictures of them and you on their Facebook pages?

Daughter: Yes, all over the place!

Jonathan: So, you’re actually already on Facebook, as you said, all over the place, but since you don’t have an account, you have no way to easily monitor what’s happening with your image and what people are saying about you, except when you’re at your friend’s houses and they’re on Facebook..with you?

Daughter: Yup!

Mom: Hmmm…

This is a tough one.

We all want our kids to be safe. And, it’s a new world where the rules are changing really, really fast.

So, what’s the answer here?

Let’s discuss…

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74 responses

74 responses to “Should Your 14 Year Old Be On Facebook?”

  1. Lauren Cobb says:

    My 17 year old daughter has been on MySpace since she was 14 and Facebook since 15. Coincidentally (not) I have also. Her first MySpace account, I set up for her – along with her first email. I had the passwords for those accounts, and she wasn’t allowed to change them without telling me until this year. I was always honest with her that I checked her MySpace and her friends knew that I read her comments.

    Just like any online reputation management, you are going to be talked about in the space, so you have to be there to monitor.

    If the mom doesn’t let her have an account under mom’s controlled terms – she’s going to have one anyway that you know nothing about.

    • caitlin lily marshall says:

      wow i love what u said and i think u helped me let my 12 year old have facebook coz i never thought about checking up on her this might just work for a fellow parent like u and me i thank u sooooooooooooooo mucchhh

    • RGL says:

      So here’s my take…I agree with most everything everyone has said. I am in marketing and we utilize social media all the time. When it comes to my kids, it really makes me do a double take because it is inherent in us as parents to protect. My daughter is 14 (3 months from 15) and has asked for one. So what I have decided to do is to talk to her over the next few weeks about the same things you all have already mentioned. This is to make sure she has time to internalize what is appropriate in advance of getting one so that she is less likely to make mistakes. She is very mature so I know she will digest what we talk about and act appropriately. With that said, I really have no issue with her having one as long as I know the password because though we all grew up as the digital revolution was just beginning to take off…our kids will grow up in a world with nothing but digital interaction. I think being almost 15 is long enough and provides her plenty of time to begin participating and understanding the value of social media. While I will monitor it within reason (don’t want to pry but won’t shy away either), I want her to get used to it and comfortable because social media isn’t going away anytime soon.

  2. That is a tough question.

    I’m not a firm believer though that anything on the net (myspace/facebook/etc) is private even if you mark it. The daughter should be able to be in control of her ‘image’ is a good argument and can do so without an account just by finding out with a friends account.

    If my son (only 4 now) gets to that point I’ll have to sit him down with every article about people not getting jobs, losing jobs, families torn apart, etc by not utilizing proper online security practices. Of course he’ll have to be 16 in my book or just post approved pictures by my wife and I as well as allow us access to his account to run checks on it.

    You just don’t know anymore online with kids. Its quite sad its gotten to this level.

    Great post!

  3. Wow, every mom/dad should have a cyberdork friend. Preferably attached at the hip.

    Good thing you were around to reframe things a bit.

    Somewhat off-topic since I haven’t been fourteen for a while, but my mother warns me at least once a week about the dangers of Facebook and reminds me not to post sleazy pics.

    Of course there’s nothing better for strategic business networking than sleazy pics … but that’s another post.

  4. Patrick says:

    Well one thing I like about Facebook compared to Myspace it the accountability that goes along with it. Like anything anything regarding a minor should be monitored by the responsible adult i.e. parent.

    Kids aside this is a situation that also applies to the business world. Even if a business is not constantly active on a social networking site it’s important for the business or a representative within the business to have accounts in the social networks to monitor what others are saying about them. Heck if you do it right it a free way to do market research.

    • michael whyte says:

      ummmm kids should have them. i mean, u adults r crazy. if u never let them get one theyll just get one later in life when ur not there. theyll just think “hey, i could never do anything when my parents were around, but now they re gone, so i can do watevr i want.” if u want to protect them, let them see wat its like 4 themselves. LEARN UR STUFF, PARENTS!

  5. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Lauren – “If the mom doesn’t let her have an account under mom’s controlled terms – she’s going to have one anyway that you know nothing about.” Funny, I was wondering that very things during the conversation. The daughter is a really good kid, so I assumed not, but my guess is many other kids already have a secret one set up. Honestly, back when I was 14, I probably would’ve.

    @ Nathan – hey, at least you’ve probably got another year or two, until he’s 6, until he’s on Digg! 😉

    @ Havi – yeah, getting the answers you want is so often about how you frame or reframe your questions. Oh, btw, Naomi’s been postig sleezy pix of you all over the web, so tell your mom it’s already taken care of! 🙂

    @ Patrick – I have to agree, at least from what I know about it, they’ve set up some nice controls that make your job as a parent a bit easier. Still, you just have to wonder…

  6. Christine says:

    My 14 y/o son has been on MySpace for that last 2 years. I follow his page and get updates when he posts to his blog. He knows that I see what he posts because I post comments. I have the ability to learn very interesting things about him and his friends by following him. You know how rarely boys open up to their Mom, so this actually helps.

  7. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Christine – that’s a really interesting point. It’s almost like giving your kid an indirect way to share what’s going in their heads and their lives, without the horrific angst of having sit down and tell you, face to face.

    I hadn’t even thought about that side of it. Very cool, thanks for sharing your experience!

  8. That’s one smart 14 yo. The “Plus, I’ll even friend you, so you can see everything I’m doing” line would’ve convinced me.

    My oldest is almost 8 and has a blog under a pseudonym. We think it’ll help her write/keep in touch with family, etc. And it does. Kids are going to do these things, and it seems to me if the parents can be part of the process, they can help shape the experience. My daughter knows she has to use our fake names for her sisters and that she can’t use identifying addresses/affiliations/etc. Kids are smart, and they need to know how to guard against predators, online and off.

  9. Dan Thornton says:

    There’s a couple of options.

    1. Deny Facebook. Deny a mobile phone. Accept that the daughter will do anything online via computer or mobile behind the mother’s back, and will keep it all a secret – even if she’s contacted by someone and wants to ask her mum for help.

    2. Adopt a responsible approach. Ask her to show her mum once a week what she’s been up to, cool photos etc. Make sure she only ever adds friends she has met in real life, so they’re verifiable. Don’t post addresses/phone numbers/IM accounts/school etc publicly.
    The main thing is building the trust in her that if someone approaches her online, or indeed in real life where the physical risk is far greater, that she knows she can tell her mom straight away and doesn’t have to hide it.

    I was lucky with my parents. Their approach didn’t stop me getting into trouble, but it meant that as soon as I thought things were going wrong, I knew I could go straight to them and tell them the honest truth.

  10. My daughter is 14 and she got into Facebook this summer. What I did- and the other parents I know did as well – was get our own pages and ask to be friends. At first she wouldn’t link to me but then she did… I just have to remember to go over there and check it out.

    And I mention the whole stalking don’t ever give out your info stuff far too often.

    I wish we had less to protect them from – parenting is harder than when our parents raised us. Sigh. But with a smile.

  11. […] Go to the author’s original blog: Should Your 14 Year Old Be On Facebook? […]

  12. I just shared this with my nice friends on FriendFeed with the comment below. I figured I’d leave the comment here too.

    I moderate a social site. Earlier this week, a parent asked me about signing up her 4 kids onto the network. Mind you, this is a parent. On a social site. If she’s doing her children’s bidding, they probably aren’t old enough! What kind of parent would do that?

    Seriously. Some of these people are just DUMB.

  13. […] got an interesting post today called: Should Your 14 Year Old Be On Facebook, to which I left a way-insightful comment, and I got this email reply: Just a quick note to thank […]

  14. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Jane – Yeah, the offer to friend her mom was genius, a pretty killer selling point. My 7 year old has a blog, too, but like yor daughter, it’s passworded, only for friends and family. And, it gives her a cool way to explore writing and finding her voice at a young age.

    PS – Thanks for the link back from your blog! 😉

    FYI – for anyone who emails me, there’s something funky going on in the settings on my mail server that is kicking back a mailbox full message, but I am actually getting your e-mail. We’re working on it, but probably won’t fix it until we migrate servers next month. Thanks for understanding!

    @ Dan – its definitely a balance between monitoring and censoring. Get too intrusive and it’s a good bet your kid’ll end up having an FB account “for your,” then adding another “for them.” It’s a fine, dymanic line

    @ Jennifer – definitely a lot more to “protect” against these days, but the flip side is a lot more freedom and opportunity to connect in a good way, too.

    @ Tamar – Yeah, it’s not just about permitting your kid to have an account and monitoring it, but investing in and understanding the culture and unspoken rules of their chosen community. That takes a chunk of time and energy.

  15. carolsaha says:

    My 10 yr old was on Myspace for a while. She and a friend signed up. She put up “Daddy’s Girl” as her wallpaper in case her dad found out because she knew he wouldn’t approve. She got bored with it shortly and took it down. 14 or 15 yrs ago my now 28 yr old daughter used to go in chat rooms. Like her little sister, it got boring and she quit. I think being a responsible parent doesn’t mean deny, deny, deny. I think it means being aware and there for them. Like most of the comments said.

  16. Justin says:

    Obviously she should be allowed to have a Facebook account! She’s 14 years old, that’s in high school. I don’t even know why she is asking her mom about that. At that point, you’re old enough to make an account alone. Her mom is paranoid if she thinks her daughter is “in danger” because she has her picture online. People need to stop living so much in fear about stupid things and live their lives.

    • patrick says:

      Spoken like a person without a child. When you have one and lie awake fretting over what your kids are doing or what they see or that wacko walking down the street; THEN you will understand. Come back when you have a child.

      • Jonathan Fields says:

        Patrick, you might want to read my about page before making assumptions…

        • meghan says:

          i agree with them, a thirteen/fourteen a child should be allowed facebook. at that age they are responcible enough to know better. In grade 7 and 8, nearly everyone has facebook. My daughters class did a survey last year in grade 7 and 93% of people had facebook. the child wouldd propbably feel left out, if they cant see the funny comments, talk to their friends, etc. If you dont allow your children, theyll just learn they hae to keep secrets from you. wouldnt you want them to inform you of whats going on in their lives? aswell, no kid will want you to have their password, when my mom had wanted my email adress at age 20-25 ii was mortified. that shows so little trust. if paretns dont give t heir child some freedom, theyll always feel distant from their parent, that they dont understand. just sayin..

    • Amanda says:

      Justin i agree with you as a teenager i think parents should trust us more. My parents won’t let me get a facebook account and all my friends have it 🙁 i am on facebook from their pictures and i will be able to pick who can see my profile if i get a privite account. Also only i will be able to pick who os on my contact list so i do not understand why parents are so paranoid!!!!

  17. Very scary, Jonathan –

    My absolutely dropdead gorgeous grandaughter is on and all I and her father can do is warn her that she has to be very careful!

    So there is no way to trace her.

    She has herself listed as a 100 year woman from New York. She lives in Chicago.

    She is a straight A student in advanced placement and all she says to us is –

    “Do you think I am stupid?”

    We are counting on her being smart everywhere!

  18. Whatever solution you come up with, the important thing is that you care enough to be involved. If all parents followed that example the problem would never have reached the current level. Kids may complain about limits and boundaries but having them lets children feel secure. It’s one of the ways they know they are loved.

  19. Pete says:

    @Nathan – What are you, a nazi? I’d hate to be your son. When my son reaches that age he can rest assured that I will not be using his profile to “check up on him.” He has a right to privacy too.

    Why not learn things about your son the old fashioned way? TALK TO HIM.

  20. Glee Girl says:

    Not that I’m a parent (or a teenager living in the cyber age) but I know that you can’t protect your children from every risk they might face. You’ve got to let them live a little, and not grow up being afraid of the world.

    Surely it’s better to let them grow by experiencing the world and learning the strategies to navigate it safely (with parental support and monitoring)? Like most things in life, it’s about finding a balance. (Gah! I’m telling people how to raise their kids!)

    And you make a very good point Jonathan. Your friend’s daughter IS on Facebook. She sounds like a pretty sensible kid anyway.

  21. Anthea says:

    An interesting topic indeed Jonathan.

    I can offer a bit of a younger perspective – I’m not far out of my teens and have a younger sibling who is sixteen.

    I first started using MSN messenger and ICQ when I was about 14. My parents never knew very much about cyberspace, but have never tried to control what we did.

    When I was younger there were a couple of dodgy situations I found myself in, but it is easy to block or delete someone who was getting creepy.

    Kids are definitely safer now, the dangers are usually brought to their attention and their “real” friends are online for them to interact with so they have less reason to find strangers to talk to for the sake of using the medium.

    In some cases, I think that kids just need to be trusted. If you let your kids know that you will allow them have an account on a social networking site, so long as they are aware that there are whackos (!) out there, and that if they are ever worried by anything they see – or their friends experience online, they can come to you for help or advice.

    Of course this doesn’t sit well with everyone!

    My younger sister met a boy online when she was twelve and he was sixteen – probably a parent’s worst nightmare. He would drive two and a half hours to come and see her, but my parents knew that if they tried to stop her she would fly off the rails completely. (She came out the other end in once piece)

    It all comes down to your kids, let them know that you are trusting them to be safe and sensible. It’s a responsibility and a chance for them to prove to you that they can handle that responsibility.

    You know your kids better than anyone, so stay informed about the dangers but trust them to be sensible.

  22. […] Fields has a nice article about 14 year olds having Facebook accounts.  He really looks at a perspective I hadn’t thought […]

  23. Mark Cahill says:

    Great post!

    I’m wrestling with the simple issue of my 9 and 10yo daughters telling me they need cell phones because all the other girls in class have them. My answer is they’re way too young.

    The 10 yo knows she’s too young for her own email and im, but speced out a site for me on paper asking for a moderated version of these services (everything logged and all contacts approved by parents). A very reasoned approach…

  24. sarah says:

    Facebook is a public space. So the question should be “do you trust your daughter to be relatively unsupervised in a public space?” If you’d be OK dropping her off at a mall to attend a movie with her friends, then she’s also probably mature enough to be on facebook.

    When I was 14, I participated in a variety of competitive events that got my name in the papers, sometimes along with pictures. So lots of strangers knew my name, what I looked like, where I went to school, and what I spent my time doing. Sure it was a risk but there were huge benefits to getting to do those activities as well. If your child is to have a chance to be successful, she’s got to be visible to the public at some point. Better to teach her to take care of herself than to ban her from the world…

  25. Jack says:

    A 14 year old should be able to have Facebook. If you’ve raised her well she’ll be able to make good decisions. Plus, if you’re her Facebook friend you might be able to learn a bit more about your daughter when her friends post pictures and comments.

  26. I’m 23 and my mom still warns me about the dangers of Facebook. I think that sometimes having an account is best, if only so you can change the privacy settings to block anyone from seeing your photos.

  27. Thomas says:

    Another question: Do you dare to not allow your 14 year old daughter to be on facebook? To be honest, facebook is about as safe as an online community comes. FB as I know it is not really a dating community, there are far worse sites out there.

    To me it would be a question of learning. The online world is growing, and the line between our online person and our real life person are all but erased. It is as important to teach children about this aspect of life as the more traditional ways. And really – it is a lot safer to have her communicating online while sitting in your house than have her out on the streets unsupervised.

  28. Tara says:

    Ye gods! I’ve just stumbled on this and my hair stood on end. My children are still only young (under 6) but the rate they are growing up these days and using the internet like they were born with a computer chip embedded in their frontal lob frightens the beejesus out of me.

    Kinda glad I read this, but kinda wishing I had stayed reading what’s on TV tonight . . .

  29. sb says:

    I started making websites and keeping an online journal when I was 11. This was pre-Facebook, etc… 1997. Guess what? I never got molested. Chill, parents.

  30. Hannah says:

    I started going online when i was about 9 or 10 in 1999/2000, I went into chatrooms and found myself in sketchy situations numerous times, including points where I was talking to the people I met online over the phone. In some ways I was probably just lucky, but at the same time I also brought it on my self, i was never predetorized online, i was just as much invovled in any exchange as the person on the other end. I have had a xanga, myspace and now facebook, my parents are on facebook, i use facebook to communicate for my job, in fact, I work with youth, and the one person who cannot use facebook (a 14 yr old) is at a disadvantage because he cannot communicate as easily with everyone else. Like it or not social networking tools are the way that people communicate now and they will continue to be more and more crucial as time goes on, it is important that children learn to use them now because they will need those skills to interact with the world in school and out of school.

  31. Mia Ackerman says:

    Sure allow them a facebook account but you have to closely monitor. Like you said if you tell them no, they will get a account anyways without you knowing and you’ll have no way to keep an eye on them.

  32. […] Should Your 14 Year Old Be On Facebook? | Awake At The Wheel | Personal Growth | careers | entrepren…. Digg, Share, Stumble… […]

  33. Craig says:

    This is outrageous! Parents who have facebooks and myspaces and are commenting and looking on their kids accounts is a total invasion of privacy! Kids at this age (12-18) are wanting to try and be more independent by having an account and talking with friends, if you are commenting on your kids photos or anything else whether you know it or not YOU ARE EMBARRASSING THEM IN FRONT OF THEIR FRIENDS! do not have an account, do not monitor their accounts, RESPECT their privacy! Trust your child, they will follow common sense and better judgement. remember, not everybody is out to kill you!

  34. Brigid says:

    Jonathan, a lot of it depends on your 14-year-old. When I was about 13 I started playing a Japanese strategy game, “Go”, on online servers that included chat rooms. I got my MySpace when I was probably fourteen, to keep in touch with far-away friends, and the Facebook came up when I was about sixteen. I had a series of fairly-anonymous blogs well before that. My current blog, well, anyone can tell it’s me (although my name’s not up there) because I mention my tiny college and my roommates.

    There were some odd situations, although thankfully no dangerous ones. Once or twice I did ask Mom if she would take me to meet a Go-playing friend, in a Borders books or something, but nothing ever came of it.

    I’d say no to the MySpace, because it seems so unregimented…could be just me, but it seems like I stumble across a lot more strange stuff there. Facebook you can set your privacy settings quite high, although other people’s photos of you will always be visible.

    I would agree that you should know what she’s up to online, but you also need to give her a little freedom. Don’t read everything, because that really IS an invasion of privacy. But take a quick look at comments she leavse and receives every now and again. ASK her if anybody says anything creepy. Pay attention if she joins the “Chicago Swingers Club” group, because either it’s an accident or she’s got some ‘splainin to do!
    Remember this, too: As you give her more freedom, she’ll become better at using it wisely.

    Good luck!

  35. Jeff says:

    Having the same discussion with my 13 year old about getting a facebook account. So, I went on facebook and did a friend search for girls under 18 and found all kinds of groups and kids. That seemed pretty easy for a sexual predator. You can send messages without joining as a friend, which would then become visible. It would also be easy for a predator to create a false teen profile.

    Remind me again what the upside to this is? There seems like a great deal of risk for little reward. I have a Facebook account and they can sit with me, watch me post things, offer advice, etc. So whatever learning comes from it, they will get. Also, they are already pretty tech savvy, so that does not worry me.

    13 sound too young, by 16 she will have a drivers license, so she will basically be free to go where she wants. Somewhere in between sounds like the answer.

  36. Dillon says:

    This is a bit late but i wanted to say my part.
    I am 14 years old, have been online doing this kind of thing longer then most kids.
    FaceBook and MySpace and EVERY social networking place on the internet is going to have these online predators and such.
    I would honestly prefer not to have a facebook/myspace if my parents had to check.
    That would give me no freedom at all.
    A lot of use parents don’t understand myspace/facebook how teenagers do.

    Too me it’s my little online space where i can code my own page with CSS/HTML. Along with chatting with friends and such.

    If parents get invloved you are just invading there privacy. Teenagers need a place online or offline to themselves where there not being monitored.

    I believe that all 13 year old+ teenagers are fine to use it, if use have brought them up as sensible mature teenagers. They SHOULD know what to have on there and what not too.

    On a final note, in both myspace and facebook you can adjust the security settings enough so only people you have personally accepted as a friend can view anything at all.

    i have been on myspace/facebook since i was 12.
    I find i have always been more mature and know what i’m doing with these things from a lot younger age then most.

    Sorry if i repeated myself, i kind of just getting going there.

  37. Isabella says:

    Hello I looked at the talking and found it hard to think that you want to be on it although being an outcast. I think the mom should calm down ( Of corse!!) Loads of people ARE on face book but most are in their 40’s 20’s i find it hard why a 14 would wanna be on there!!? Boys? Girls? Just a chat? If its chatting you should let her i know how much you want something you never get it ( BAD!) boys is bad in this case no the mom should ask why she wants one. Most people will agree/ Disagree mostly disagree i think myself my 45 year old mom is on face book!! the best way is to make it privet so nobody but her friends can see but now loads of people can see what your doing. Heres some ideas!

    1. Try to ask why she wants the thing on face book!

    2. Me not being on face book i find it hard to understand why people want it so much!! ask why she’s gonna do on face book!

    3. Des she have a myspace page yet?

    4. Maybe she could get an account but be for active( Most people will say no!)

    5. Some 14’s are on face book maybe wait a while if you really want one you really should let your girl have one although all the sick o’s on there and she;s gonna meet one is 1%.

    Hope this helps Enjoy face book tell me what it’s like if you get on!! P.s Theres a guy who likes pie on there he’s super funny!! 🙂
    it’ll be sad not having your dreams come true!. :'(

    Isabella XXOO

  38. Isabella says:

    Sorry bout this but are you really that fat is that you in the photo on the computer ( Sorry if i called you fat but um!)

  39. dc says:

    I just turned 13 and I am begging my parents to get a facebook. I agree with all of your comments and I was wondering what you thought about what I should tell my parents to convince them I should get a facebook. Thanks!

  40. steve says:

    Well heres the aruement from the 14 year old prospective you cant arugue if your not and you poeple are sort of the problem.

    Becasue if you say no there going to learn from it and not ask you I know 8 year olds that look at porn and also watch 18+ i swear to god your not stopping anything and by trying your making it unfair on that one person your to late

  41. steve says:

    but I think your right but trust me theres alot more worser things that happends on the internet you know what am talking about your just stopping the enethable

  42. bvhcf says:

    Parents can be unfair at times they need to trust their teens. I dont think that looking on ur sons/daugtars page is nessary.

  43. Havana says:

    Augh, what a difficult question.

    Well, I’m 22 now and I started heavily interacting online since I was 12, I got into chatrooms, forums, and early blog communities (Livejournal, anyone? :D). I can still remember how immersed I was. I was shy. I was so unapologetically dorky; I followed my passions even if compromised an outstanding social status.

    Not that I liked that that part! I felt isolated. I felt unwanted. I felt– a teenager’s favorite word– misunderstood.

    A lot of the stuff I did in these online ecosystems were pretty innocuous. I liked roleplaying anime characters and reading/writing fanfiction, showing off fanart, and get giddy over Harry Potter and animation films and Japanese comic books. I made so many friends. Not just back-and-forth fun little penpal friends.

    Genuine, caring, nourishing, provoking friends.

    And then a lot of the other stuff I was exposed to in these communities would have made parents’ eyes fling open and panic. I can see why parents would be so afraid of letting their kids out into “this world.” Mind you, I never did anything terrible: I never flirted or “cybersexed” with guys in chatrooms, I never gave out real contact info (I was genuine in personality but not in name or location), and I never set up to meet anyone from the Internet.

    Still, if it wasn’t for the Internet, I would not have known 80% of all the shady, weird-ass, twisted crap I knew back then. I did meet weird people.

    And mean people. And destructive people. And creepy people.

    On the other hand, the internet played such a huge, integral part of my social life growing up. Those rich relationships from back then both stirred up a lot of emotional drama but also gave me sanctuary when I had none. Just like the offline world now. Being exposed to such a wide range of things made me openminded and nurtured my intellectual development. While kids at my high school were talking about who made out with who and whether Christina or Britney was hotter, my friends and I huddled at our screens, discussing how to best use literary devices in our amateur fiction, exploring character development through roleplay, and learning HTML to create anime fansites. I like that I have a love of learning and my online communities helped shaped me into who I am now.

    To imagine re-living my teen years without the internet? It makes me shudder to think about it.

    If your kid doesn’t get into trouble online bc s/he’s barred form it, s/he’ll get in trouble somewhere else. Mistakes happen. How to make sure the really big, scary, irreversible mistakes don’t happen?

    That’s the question, isn’t it? I think I had a personal line I didn’t cross (even though I had the chance to) and I feel like it just came from the values that indirectly grew in my through my upbringing. There are so many factors that contribute to our personal ethics but forbidding information or access to protect our kids?

    That’s just deprivation.

  44. kyle says:

    i agree with some of this and i dissagree… ok i understand why parents get so over protective and stuff and its ALOT of partents that do that like check there facebooks and stuff one problem there is how you’r friends talk or anything if you’r friends cusses or says somthing inaproprete you’r parents will spaz u will never see them again you will lose you’r facebook forever you will get 5 lecures a day and it won’t end! also online preditors ya mabey a few but the 500,000 on there probaly 400,000 of thoughs parents are over protecteve partens looking at each other calling them selfs preditors rapests and such im sure there only resone for that account is to monator there kids to think that parents are looking through more kids info then predetors and kids are smart enough to avode its called a person you don’t know you don’t take the chance to know them if you do you might become friends if personal info is asked ignor it if said again tell them they don’t need to know if said AGAIN threten to get them removed if coninued!…. just report ok is it that hard to get ride of them?

  45. kyle says:

    also try making a practice account like one were all the info in it is fake request you’r friends (tell them its you so they will accept) and go on with the facebook activitys from there

    if it all works out let her get her own and have that one be her real account and you will see if she can handle it or not and the legal age on facebook is 13 if you are wondering

  46. Amy says:

    I’m fifteen right now, and my parents and I had this exact discussion last year, in the end they told me flat out “NO!” they went through all the risks and dangers. But eventually I got sick of being the only one left out of what everyone was talking about and went ahead and made one anyway, without them even knowing. I felt guilty having to sneak around, so one day I just told them. They demanded I showed them it, and when I did they saw I didnt have anything “bad” on my facebook and I was just keeping in contact with friends and family. They were Ok with it after I had to give them the password so they could keep a “close-eye” on me. They’ve made an account themselves and are now on more then me. So, if parents don’t trust their children or let them have some freedoms, they are going to get to the point where they are decieving them and going to do it anyway.

  47. Michael says:

    It’s always tough to figure out when the right moment is to let go. Your daughter will have to be responsible for herself someday – eventually she will grow into an adult and make an account without your permission being necessary. If she makes one now than you can keep an eye on it and she’s still under your protection. Maybe if it makes you comfortable you can give her a trial period where she has “her” Facebook account but she can only edit it and use it with you there to supervise. You can feel out the risks and utility involved together and when you feel she’s mature enough, give her the password and let her use it on her own.

  48. Why not says:

    I am a Freshman in high school and i continuously ask my parents if i can get a facebook. I have straight A’s (and in some honor’s classes) and I’ve never done anything stupid that would make my parents not trust me. I am a very responsible kid and that’s why i cant just get a fake account. I need help! There are over a thousand kids in my grade and i need some way to keep in touch with them!!!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Just point your parents over to this post, maybe it’ll help. 🙂

  49. Amanda says:

    I am a teen and my parents will not let me get facebook i do not understand why they are so paranoid and protective when i choose who is on my contact list. If they are really worried i will give them my password and they can check my account. I can out my account on privite so only my contact list can see my profile. I don’t understand. All of my friends have facebook and i am in alot of their pictures already why does it matter if i make my own account??

    • Jonathan Flinsaf says:

      I agree with you Amanda i think that your parents should give you a little bit of freedom. Tell Them about the privicy setting maybe that will ,ake them change their minds. If you are a teenager you are old enough and your parents should trust you since your older. Wait and do not harp on it otherwise you might get them annoyed!!! hope this helps

  50. sihah says:

    well im 10 years old and i have a facebook a myspace so hahahahaha to the people that dont and i got them both when i was born my parents made it for me now i hae one

  51. A good person says:

    I am 14 and i want a facebook but my parents wont let me and i feel if i get 1 behind their backs i will feel really bad so my mom is thinking about it and all i will have is my friens and family only. and this helped thanx guys! and 10 or 8 i feel is to young and its crazy!

  52. christian says:

    i am 13 and my parents do not think that facebook is safe. all of my friends have facebook. i just dont understand why they wont let me have one. i did a lot of research of facebook safety but they still wont believe that it is safe.

  53. I personally believe that facebook is safe. I’ve had my account for about 2 years, and it’s fully visible in Google.

    Therefor, companies may search for my name and find me on Facebook – which is a good thing! I’ve got all my websites linked there.

  54. Sarah Link says:

    Interesting and helpful… Great post!
    Hello everyone. I was browsing the web when I came across this discussion. I am a mother of two teens and it sure not so easy. I had the same problem a few months ago when my 16 year old daughter asked me if she can have an account on facebook and twitter. I am no tech-savvy mom but I know what are these social networks are for. I am not a irresponsible parent but I am not a super strict one. I know my teens are responsible enough but when it comes to being a parent, I am a professional at worrying. As much as we want to protect our kids from all of the ugly content that is available on the Internet, social networking is here to stay and whether you approve of sites like Facebook or not, chances are your child is already on them or one day will be. Your instinct may be to ban your child from such sites, but as we all know, that just makes them more enticing. their curiosity, when peaked, can turn them into mini super sleuths. If they want to find something out, they will do whatever it takes to get it, whether that means going to another computer at a friends house, or getting the help of a friend to help bypass whatever settings you have on your computer. Just like what have mentioned already, if we won’t allow them to create one while we are around, they might get tempted to create when you are not around. Let’s face it, we no longer live in an age where kids spend most of their free time outdoors digging for fossils in the backyard or even riding bikes. ‘Tweeting,’ ‘friending,’ ‘Gchats’ and ‘Facebooking’ are the trends now. As grown-ups we can recognize anything that is not really what it seems to be, but our children can’t.
    So I asked for an advice from a friend and luckily, she have one for me. Her daughter is on facebook too. Surprisingly, she is very relaxed about it. She recommended a parental control tool called Social Shield. She said she’s been using it ever since her daughter joined facebook and she’s satisfied with the result. My friend assured me that it for a small amount, I can be sure that it is safe, reliable, and the good thing is it has a free trial. I am a mom and I love my kids so much. I am willing to try anything just to make sure they are safe from any possible danger. I signed up and to my amazement, it really works. The features are great. I am able to monitor my daughter’s online activities, pictures she posts, as well as the friends she adds without constantly browsing through every pages of her account. I have never been so comfortable like this before. I can say I am very much satisfied with their services. Not only it helps me feel secure for my daughter, it also created an atmosphere of trust between me and my daughter. Since I started using social shield I don’t have to read each and every post on my daughter’s wall everyday and click endlessly through each friend to see who they are. Both of my teens have facebook and twitter now. I am using Social Shield for a couple of months now and still loving it.
    The Internet is an amazing resource; it’s educational, entertaining and a great way to connect with all sorts of people from around the globe. It is not all dangers. We just have to know what tools to use that will actually helps us in doing so. Hope this helps. =)

  55. Bridget says:

    My parents are not letting me have a facebook, and it really gets me aggravated. I am thirteen and all of my other friends, and practically everyone in my grade has a facebook, and without it I do not know what is happening in my grade, and feel left out. Im am very responsible and smart enough to not put bad stuff or things that give information out online. I just do not understand why they do not let me have a facebook. I feel so left out! Please help me tell them that I should be aloud to have a facebook.:)

    • Jazzy says:

      i am 13 too and i feel like my parents are way to protective. they just let me get an email about a month ago. i need a facebook because everyone goes on it and i want to know what they are talking about. if they dont let me soon i will make one myself so please help me.

      • Danielle says:

        I’m 13 and honestly, I think facebook is a waste of time. I’m allowed to have one if i want i just don’t really feel the need to. you can still know “whats happening in your grade” without stalking your classmates online. One thing I do agree with you on is that you should be able to get one if you want as long as you are careful with the info you share. You should be allowed to make your own decisions- you’re old enough to learn to start taking care of yourself. But don’t get one just ’cause your friends have one. that isn’t a good reason. And you don’t NEED a facebook, you WANT one. Get that through your head and you might be able to convince your parents.

  56. Wantsafb says:

    im 14 almost 15 and i still cant have a fb i mean im already on fb to cuz all my friends have one. I want one so i can stay in contact with my cousins, aunts uncles, and other people. Also, my sis cuz she just moved out of the house. But i cant convince my mom no matter what sad story right….

  57. Emily says:

    hey! im 14 and i want a fb really bad my parents arent really worried about creepers cause of all the privicy settings and i hav 5 older brothers that r upsesed with computers and tech and r always on fb and doing stuff and im the youngest of my family and want to keep in touch but my parents say that they dont trust me and i dont know what to do i stumbled across this pg. trying to find reasons y parents dont want there child to hav a fb and thanx to u guys i have some great ideas and im going to put them in a powerpoint and show it to my parents to see what they think and try to talk them into it. i hope it works but if you hav any other sugestions that would be amazing cause i still need help

    p.s. some of you ppl r crazy!!!!! just saying some of you dont hav very good sence… either tht or u dont hav kids…

  58. John says:

    i’m 14 almost 15 and i used to hav a fb. it was just about the worst 30 minutes of my life. my friends persuaded me 2 get one, then i got 1, i got a bunch of friends, then i realized….WTF!!!! this is for losers with no fckin life!!!! so i deleted my account and went and got a life.

  59. camcool12 says:

    I am 14 I had a a lady over at my school a couple days ago and she said that Facebook can take anything you but on it and use it for anything she told us a story about a girl who had a friend on Facebook and the girl went to Germany and her friend was on a billboard so when she came back she asked her friend if she knew about the billboard and her friend said no and Facebook didn’t even ask with they would be ok if they could use your image so don’t but any thing on Facebook and if your are going to delete it takes 9 days for it to get rid of it and if you go back on it you will still have it and it will cancel the deletion

  60. Melanie says:

    I’m fourteen and my parents refuse to let me have a Facebook on account of those stories in which people have lost their education, job, and/or life. They also find the website unsafe. However, I feel like I have the self-control necessary to navigate Facebook safely–I am a straight-A honors student with good emotional and psychological stability, a large circle of friends who I’m keen to keep in touch with, and a pretty-but-not-sexy face that I think will keep pedophiles and other perverts uninterested. Not, of course, that I would ever dream of posting anything that would spark the interest of one. So I’m not sure why my parents haven’t placed that trust on me when I think I’ve earned it over and over again. It’s also extremely frustrating to be the only one without an account, especially during the summer when you don’t see your friends that often and there are wide discussions about which homeroom people are in that you can’t contribute to. Furthermore, I go to a camp called CTY (Center for Talented Youth) each summer and always manage to grow very close to a group of people. Fb is a great way to keep in touch with them, and one that I don’t have access to.
    But really, my parents cannot expect me to go through high school without a Facebook. This is what life is like right now, and I want to adapt. I see no nobility in depriving myself of one. So I am starting to get desperate. I honestly don’t want to make an account without their permission. They’ve made the consequences pretty clear as well (limit internet access and make ME pay for the software necessary *cringe*). But I do feel like I’m being oppressed…which, studies have shown, leads to recklessness in the future. So I just really wish my parents were made out of the putty that seems to be the composition of most parents these days. They say they’re doing this out of love. What they don’t realize is that this love is strangling me.


    Melanie (not my real name of course SEE I TAKE PRECAUTIONS)