with Talyaa Liera
I'm Talyaa, the poster child for the concept that there's no one right way to be a parent. I went from stay-at-home attachment-parenting mom of four to being the non-custodial parent, working as a professional writer and channel-psychic. Let's talk about throwing away the parenting manual and exploding the myths and mystique of motherhood!
Check out my personal blog at Juxtapositioning.
Last summer, my eleven year old daughter got her first laptop. Becoming wired meant a lot of great changes in her life. She can communicate more easily with me now, via IM, email, or Skype. She can research school stuff better, without waiting in line for the family desktop computer. She can write her Great American Novel. She can stay in touch with pop culture more easily (for her, this mostly means watching music videos on YouTube). And, becoming wired means Facebook.
Imagine my shock, surprise and chagrin to see my eleven year old daughter’s new Facebook profile. The one that said she was 18. EIGHTEEN! Immediately I put on my protective mama hat. The one that looks like WHAT WERE YOU THINKING???!!
We had a talk. A few talks. She said that her friends made the profile for her. She said that she was uncomfortable with the lie. I walked through privacy settings with her. I wondered why she hadn’t simply become 13 instead of 18. Why such a big lie? I read up on this and found that my daughter is far from alone. Kids all over the world are savvy social networkers. In Europe, 44% of kids my daughter’s age are using social networking sites. And they are lying to do it. And in many cases, their parents know about it. Or help them do it.
It’s weird. While I freaked out about my daughter playing that she was 18 — a jump of seven years from her real age — I would have been quite okay if she had created a profile just two years older than her real self. Why? Because I think the age 13 rules of Facebook and other social networking sites are silly. A good idea (who among us doesn’t want to protect our kids from harm?) taken too far.
Facebook is perfect for tweens. Games! Apps! Viral videos! Kittens! Parents keeping tabs on their kids in a way that isn’t creepy! But the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act prevents tweens from using social networking sites. Unless they lie. Or their parents lie for them. Which, while not condoning lying as a rule, is very possibly what I would have done.
(did I just say that out loud?)
In case you’re wondering, or worried, I had a talk with my daughter. I may have mentioned the phrase “unwanted sexual attention that you are unprepared to handle”. A few weeks later she took her profile down and says now that she’ll wait the year-plus until she is thirteen and can sign up without lying about her age. I miss seeing her and her friends on Facebook but feel better knowing that she’s not swimming in deep waters before she is ready.
What do you think about tweens and Facebook? Do you agree with the age 13 limit?
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