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Little Kids Don't Belong on Facebook

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I am sorry, but I don't want to "friend" your kid on Facebook!

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Guest blogger Tanya: I did a double take when Facebook suggested I friend him: "Sammy Johnson" (not his real name). "Huh," I thought to myself. "That's [my friend's] son's name." Then I clicked our mutual friends ... and realized with alarm that it was my friend's son.

He's four. Four. A four-year-old with a Facebook account.

I can't figure out for the life of me what a four-year-old would do with a Facebook account. Write a status update? "Playing trucks right now; getting hungry for some peanut-butter crackers." Fan SpongeBob (who, interestingly, has about 2.6 million fans already)? Or maybe join a group: "Having My Whole Body under a Blanket in Bed Makes Me Invisible to Monsters."

No. If a four-year-old is on Facebook, it's because his parents put him there. But why? Even Facebook requires that kids be at least 13 to join.

Kids on Facebook have been getting younger and younger. First it was the tweens -- parents would let them fake their ages, require privacy on all parts of their page and sometimes abbreviate their names so they weren't searchable. But now I see friends with six-, seven- and eight-year-olds signing their kids up, as well as the occasional preschooler.

Last fall, CNN asked the question, "How young is too young?" And the answer seemed to be: No one really knows. While there's plenty of research on teens and social media, no one's taken a closer look at how it affects younger children. The general consensus was that it doesn't seem like a good idea, but since the vast majority of kids use social media appropriately, it's probably no big deal.

That if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em approach doesn't sit so well with me. Sure, a four- or five-year-old might not abuse Facebook, but I've yet to hear one good reason for them to be there in the first place. We all complain that our kids grow up too early, then we stick them in front of the computer and let them play "Farm Town" when they should be on the floor playing with toy farm animals instead.

Trying to keep in touch with family? You can do that on your own page. Kids like the games? There are plenty of kid-friendly sites (Starfall, Funbrain, PBSKids, etc.) for kids to play on. You think it's cute when your kid copies you? You know what else is cute? Your kid. So log off Facebook and go read him a book or play a game with him.

What do you think -- am I completely old-fashioned and out of touch? Or do you agree that little kids just don't belong on Facebook?


next: Is Having a Nanny a Precursor to Cheating?
33 comments so far | Post a comment now
PlumbLucky March 24, 2010, 6:11 AM

No way.

I’ve actually not friended some of my younger (as in, under ten) neighbors even though they requested…mostly because I can’t guarantee that any given one of my own adult friends will keep things clean 24-7, and I don’t want the added onus on me (though implied) that I have to censor things for them.

Robin March 24, 2010, 8:28 AM

My MIL asked me if my five year old was on FB, because she thinks I should be letting him play FARMVILLE. No. She actually got really weird and offended when I said he wasn’t allowed on social networking because he’s way too young.

He is not allowed on anything on the computer that has potential interaction with other people unless he is being actively monitored, not allowed to touch the computer PERIOD unless I know what he’s doing.

He likes to play games on POGO but is only allowed to do so with his Grampa, at his Grandpa’s house, because I don’t think it’s necessary at home. In my house he can play on PBSKids.org or Starfall.com, otherwise he doesn’t need to use the internet.

Really people, Facebook? Read you kid a freaking story, help them play a game (not of the video variety), something! Good grief. And if you’re not at home and your child of any age has free access to the computer put some parental blocks and monitoring software on it, you need to know what your children do on the internet when you aren’t around.

Kim @ Beautiful Wreck March 24, 2010, 8:39 AM

I so agree with all of this.

I had to post a note to all my friends explaining I would not friend their children because of the content I often post and things about my personal life that I feel is not appropriate for my friend’s children to know.

Ainat Elos March 24, 2010, 8:44 AM

Little kids should be outside running, playing sports, singing, dancing, getting Vitamin D from the sun, etc, etc…. It is a sad commentary on lifestyle trends that parents don’t understand that there is such a thing as age appropriate activities or the fact that just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
On the other hand Facebook and other social networking services are also at fault. Their systems can flush out all kinds of issues and yet signing up a minor can be done so easily.

Cyndi March 24, 2010, 8:46 AM

I accept the friend requests from kids I know but my settings don’t allow them to see anything posted to my wall. I post things that kids shouldn’t see as do my adult friends. But accepting the kids’ friend requests allows me to see what they are up to and report back to their parents if they are posting anything inappropriate. I’m talking about tweens and teens though, I’ve never seen anyone as young as 4 on there.

Michelle Kelsey March 24, 2010, 8:51 AM

Wow this is the first time I have heard about a 4 year old being on Facebook.What might be more appropriate would be to start a page called the “Smith Family”. The great part about Facebook is that you do not have to friend them back.


tennmom March 24, 2010, 9:08 AM

my daughters are barely old enough for Facebook, so I allowed them to open accounts on the stipulation that if EVER I can’t access their accounts those accounts will be shut down. I also check their email. They are under the age of 16. Our home is not a democracy, it is a dictatorship.

Sandyp99 March 24, 2010, 9:38 AM

My 10 yo wants a Facebook account and I say no. The rules say 13. If I tell her it’s okay to lie about her age, how am I supposed to ask her to tell the truth about other things?

You have your whole life to be an adult, but only a few precious years to be a kid. What’s so awful about being a kid?

mom of 4 and grammie of 5 March 24, 2010, 10:10 AM

I can’t believe how stupid parents are now….you can tell they are the young parents(20-35yrs)come on….your only looking for trouble…do you need a babysitter that bad you put your children in front of the computor and break the rules and inrole them on FACEBOOK….it’s time to grow up and be a real parent..and take proper care of your children….play with your kids ..OUTSIDE……

Anonymous March 24, 2010, 10:25 AM

NO ONE below college age should or needs to be on facebook. There is absolutely no need in high school(you see your friends every day)and below that is just utterly insane.

Robin March 24, 2010, 10:37 AM

@ “mom of 4 and grammie of 5” You really shouldn’t generalize. As is evident in my above post I’m VERY against giving children free reign on the internet and I’m a 24yo mother of two. I do however completely agree with the rest of your sentiment, a lot of parents (regardless of age) need to take a more active role in the lives of their children, or they are going to end up with some very nasty surprises down the line.

Gigohead  March 24, 2010, 11:00 AM

I won’t put my kids on facebook either. I share photos of my son with the women who are moms on my page. No need to burden folks more than necessary.

Anonymous March 24, 2010, 11:29 AM

i honestly think that even 13 is too young. look at all the girls that gop and secretly meet these “young” guys they are talking to that end up being a 30-40 year old child molester! no way, not my kid. not until they are old enough to understand (fully understand and follow the rules). don’t talk to anyone you don’t know!

Anonymous March 24, 2010, 3:44 PM

Whatever. You do what you want and your friend’s kid can do what he wants. We are not here to judge. And if you do friend him, make your settings so that he can’t read your posts. Problem solved.

I can't believe some of these responses March 24, 2010, 4:18 PM

It doesn’t matter if your in the same room with them….or you set up the settings on their facebook….YOU JUST DON’T GET IT….NO ONE UNDER THE AGE OF 13 TO BE ON FACEBOOK….this is just to immature of the parents….grow up…teach them how to lie..next is to steal and cheat….now that’s parenting…

Anonymous March 24, 2010, 8:10 PM

im a bit torn on this topic. honestly, no, children should not be on facebook. ive never heard of a four year old, but i was rather shocked when i saw a ten year old a few days ago. you should be at least of middle school age (~13, what a surprise!) before you care about a social life. i do understand the games, though. i love my farmville. but as a child, i went online to nick.com maybe once every couple months (granted that was the early 90s and we were some of the first with internet). little kids have no reason to want a facebook, YET.. the times are a-changing.

Britt March 24, 2010, 8:28 PM

Though I do think it’s unnecessary for very young children to have Facebooks, I feel in some circumstances it’s understandable. For instance, I am 20 and in college and my brother is 11. All of our family is on Facebook including aunts and uncles and my mother and cousins who range from 15-20ish. My brother is the youngest and would never hear from his cousins (and would probably never contact me) if it were not for Facebook. Its nice to have a break from class an have my brother be home from school and decide to Facebook chat me. He is only 11, I know, but he isn’t obsessed with it (like I might be)- he just uses it to keep in touch with his family.

May March 24, 2010, 8:38 PM

Ha, talk about a pointless bitchy rant. Is it going to hurt the kid?… probably about as much as it would if the kid stood out on the curb playing hopscotch where people can do horrid things to them in the real world. “OOOOOOH! virtual scary stuff!!”. Can’t wait for the next generation to come around so we can quit pissing our pants about the internet.

Lol March 24, 2010, 9:47 PM

@tennmom

You fascist. Common sense should be a pre-requisite to using the internet

Sophia March 25, 2010, 12:12 AM

A lady I used to babysit made a Facebook account for her 2-year-old. I don’t get it. He obviously didn’t use it, she just went on it occasionally, even though she had her own. What?


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